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Singer Zubeen Garg, filmmaker Rima Das and Assamese cultural fraternity oppose Citizenship bill

The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 by enabling non-Muslim minority communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to seek citizenship in India if they entered the country before December 31, 2014.

By: Express Web Desk | Guwahati |
Updated: January 14, 2019 8:26:38 pm
Singer Zubeen Garg, filmmaker Rima Das and Assamese cultural fraternity oppose Citizenship Bill Assamese singer Zubeen Garg threatened to launch an agitation if the Citizenship (Amendment) bill was not withdrawn. (Photo: Zubeen Garg/ Facebook)

Almost a week after popular Assamese singer Zubeen Garg threatened to launch an agitation if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was not withdrawn, he has held good on his promise.

On Sunday, Garg — who has an unprecedented fan following in Assam — wrote on Facebook that he is “ready to refund the remuneration” he got before the 2016 Assembly elections when he composed Sokolure Ananda Sarbananda, (Sarbananda: everyone’s happiness) — BJP Assam’s official campaign song.

Garg wrote on Facebook: “Can I get the votes back that you earned using my voice in 2016?”

The viral post comes a week after Garg’s open letter to the Assam CM where he had categorically expressed his vehement opposition to the Bill and asked CM Sonowal — once the leader who was the voice of the Assamese people — to take a stand. The Bill, which is now pending in the Rajya Sabha, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 by enabling non-Muslim minority communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to seek citizenship in India if they entered the country before December 31, 2014.

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In Assam, the Bill has seen widespread opposition (with led to the Asom Gana Parishad walking out of the alliance with the BJP) because it is seen as threat to the indigenous Assamese population. Moreover, many believe that the Bill contradicts the ongoing NRC exercise, which seeks to determine a list of “legal” citizens of Assam by using March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date to do so.

On Wednesday filmmaker Rima Das — whose film Village Rockstars was India’s official entry to the Oscars 2019 — also took to Facebook to express her opposition to the Bill. The post, that simply stated that she opposed the Bill, was hashtagged LoveMyLand and LoveMyPeople.

Theirs aren’t the only voices of dissent in the Assamese cultural fraternity. Singers like Angaraag Mahanta (better known as Papon) as well as Bipin Chowdang, Neel Akash, Kusum Kailash have all made public their views on the Bill. Chowdang, Akash and Kailash took part in the protest against the Bill in Dibrugarh, singing songs of Bhupen Hazarika.

On Thursday, Sahitya Akademi award-winner, Assamese litterateur resigned from the post of Director of National Book Trust following her Facebook post, ‘I am Assamese’ (Moi Asomiya).

Meanwhile, as the state celebrates Bhogali Bihu, activists and leaders have requested to the public to not let go of their fight against the Bill. Akhil Gogoi, peasant leader-activist, has gone on a 24-hour hunger strike on Monday —the day of Uruka, or the eve of Magh Bihu when the Assamese collectively feast to welcome the New Year. The All Assam Students’ Union has also requested the public to sustain their fight during the festive season,

“We are in a critical juncture during this Magh Bihu. Let this be a Bihu be one of resolve, protest and struggle,” said AASU General Secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi.

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