Source: Times of India
GUWAHATI/AGARTALA/ITANAGAR: Amid widespread black-flag protests and nude demonstrations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday assured once again that his government would ensure the proposed amendment would, at no cost, hurt the language, identity and culture of the people of Assam and the northeast.
“I assure you that no damage will be done to Assam and the northeast. Granting citizenship under the provisions of the bill is a long drawn out process and will depend solely on the discretion of the state governments,” Modi said at a rally in Changsari, 30km from Guwahati.
This was Modi’s second visit to Assam in a month. It was at Silchar in Assam last month that Modi had announced that his government planned to push the bill that seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India.
Justifying the bill as a measure to “save” those who face religious persecution, he said, “One should differentiate between infiltrators and those who had to leave their countries and take shelter in India because of their religious belief. Infiltrators have no place in our country.”
Lashing out at Congress and other opposition parties for “spreading misinformation about the bill”, Modi added, “Those who oppose the bill should ask those who have taken shelter in India because of religious persecution.”
Having drawn flak from indigenous communities for introducing a bill that could endanger them, the PM fell back on a three-point agenda to urge upon the people that it is committed to protect the territorial integrity and identity of Assam – the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the Assam Accord and Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for six communities.
Continuing their demonstrations against Modi’s visit to Assam, All Assam Students’ Union activists, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and other organisations staged black flag protests. In Dispur, six nude protesters were detained after they stripped in front of the Secretariat before the PM’s arrival.