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JPC conducts hearing in Silchar on Citizenship Bill

In Silchar, a human chain was formed by a large number of people who held placards expressing their support for the Bill. In other parts of Assam, several organisations are opposing it.

By: PTI | Silchar |
May 9, 2018 1:31:15 pm
A protest in Guwahati against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016  in Guwahati on Monday. (Photo: PTI)

Almost all major parties of Assam met the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 as it began its public hearing at Silchar in the state’s Barak valley on Tuesday, official sources said.

The hearing began in the late afternoon hours of the day for three districts – Karimgang, Hailakandi and Cachar at the National Institute of Technology here.

The 16-member JPC, which is headed by Lok Sabha member Rajendra Agarwal, arrived from Guwahati and the hearing will continue till tomorrow, they said. A human chain was formed by a large number of people who held placards expressing their support for the Bill.

Altogether 357 organisation had applied for permission to meet the JPC from the three districts, the sources said. Of these 88 organisations are from Karimganj, 109 from Hailakandi and 160 from Cachar district, the sources said adding later organisations and individuals who did not register their names earlier were also heard and their memoranda received by the committee.

Stating that the committee is expected to take the opinions from 53 organizations of Cachar district today, they said 29 non governmental organisations, including student and citizens’ groups, individuals, public representatives and other stakeholders from Hailakandi district met it and submitted memoranda. The organizations submitted their opinion verbally as well as in written form to the JPC.

AIDUF MP from Karimganj, Radheshyam Biswas, party’s Katlicherra MLA Suzam Uddin Laskar and its Algapur MLA Nizam Uddin Choudhury met the committee. Congress, AGP, BJP, AIUDF besides the AIDUF met the committee. The others included Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Hindu Jagaran Mancha, Senior Citizens’ Forum, Bengali Students’ Youth Forum, Assam Tea Tribes Students’ Association, District Sports Association, Zilla Khilonjia Okya Mancha and Asom Yuva Unnayan Parishad.

The Committee incorporated the opinions of organizations and individuals on the Citizenship Bill, they added. Biswas said his party has expressed its opinion in favour of 24 March, 1971 as cut off date for identifying foreigners in Assam.

Congress leader Gautam Roy emphasised on accepting the Bill on humanitarian grounds but said the whole country should take the responsibility of those given citizenship under the Bill and not Assam alone.

Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Tarun Gogoi had yesterday said in Guwahati that the party opposed the bill “tooth and nail”. “In the Preamble to the Constitution, it is written that India is a secular republic. This bill violates the basic structure of the Constitution,” he had said and questioned the basis on which the Centre sought to amend the Citizenship Bill.

The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 and is scheduled to be presented in the winter session of Parliament.

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