Bill To Give Citizenship To Non-Muslim Immigrants Passed By Lok Sabha

Protesters against the bill have accused settlers of taking away jobs from indigenous groups

Protesters against the bill have accused settlers of taking away jobs from indigenous groups

"They have no place to go to, except India", he said, adding that several leaders, including first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, were in favour of giving shelter to persecuted minorities in the neighouring countries.

Withdrawal of the AGP, which has 14 MLAs in the 126-member assembly, would not have any immediate effect on the future of the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government that still has the backing of 74 MLAs.

The Congress and the AIUDF also lashed out at senior minister Himanta Biswa Sarma for claiming that the state will "go Jinnah's way if the Citizenship Bill is not passed".

Critics have called the bill, to be discussed in parliament on Tuesday, an attempt by Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to boost its Hindu voter base ahead of a national election due by May.

Assam police spokesman Mukesh Agarwal said more than 700 demonstrators were arrested. "Assam alone would not have to bear the entire burden and Government of India is committed to give all help needed to the state government and people of Assam", Rajnath Singh said.

The political parties and the civil society opposing the proposed law say it would allow citizenship to illegal Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, who came to the state after March 1971, in violation to the Assam Accord, 1985. The bill now grants Indian citizenship by naturalisation to communities such as Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs, fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

Terming it an "unfortunate" development, Sangma said his government had opposed the Bill and the cabinet had even passed a resolution against it.

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The proposed legislation, an election promise made by the BJP in 2014, was cleared by the Narendra Modi-led Cabinet on Monday. The North East Students' Union (NESO) - the umbrella student body representing all the states - has also called for the bandh across seven northeastern states, which is being supported by the AGP, the Congress and 30 other ethnic organizations from Assam.

Soon after the Bill was moved, leader of Congress in the House Mallikarjun Kharge said that his party has several reservations on the Bill. The Bill is supported by large sections of people in the region.

The decision followed an AGP delegation's meeting with Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi, who asserted that the government will ensure its passage in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, AGP president and minister Atul Bora said. "We now regret entering into an alliance with the BJP".

Indigenous people from the state of Assam feel that immigrants who are already eating into their limited resources and rights will benefit further once they are legitimized by citizenship.

"We will oppose the Bill in a bigger way now".

The AGP had placed its reservations on the Bill before the Joint Parliamentary Committee when the panel had visited the state and also tried to mobilise opinion against the Bill among NDA constituents such as the JD (U) and Shiv Sena, and opposition parties.

BJP's alliance partner in Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad or Assam People's Party, quit the coalition government on Tuesday in protest against the new bill.

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