By Kangkan Kalita

GUWAHATI: Anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) groups in the northeast, including All Assam Students’ Union (Aasu), have expressed shock at the Centre’s move to empower 13 district collectors in five states to grant citizenship certificates to applicants belonging to six minority communities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Intelligentsia, which took a proactive role in the anti-CAA movement, strongly objected to the developments. Aasu president Dipanka Kumar Nath threatened intense protests. “A year has passed but the government is yet to frame the rules under the CAA or inform the Supreme Court about them. The Centre issued a notification for implementation of the latest order under the Citizenship Act 1955. We warn that a similar order won’t be allowed to be implemented in Assam where the Assam Accord is there to settle the foreigners’ issue,” said Nath.

Chief adviser of North East Students’ Organization (Neso) Samujjal Bhattacharyya said the move was an attempt to safeguard illegal Bangladeshi votebank and may be a prelude to CAA implementation.
“The Centre must remember that the situation is different in Assam and the northeast which have been consistently facing the pressure of illegal influx from Bangladesh. When CAA was imposed, Aasu, Neso and indigenous people of the region made it loud and clear that we won’t accept CAA. Protests will continue,” Bhattacharyya added.

Another leading anti-CAA organization, Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad, demanded the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.

A Union home ministry-constituted committee to provide recommendations to implement Clause 6 submitted its report to then chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and his cabinet colleagues on February 25 last year. Till February this year, the report, which was to be sent to the Centre, was still with the state government, a home ministry statement in Parliament revealed.

“AJYCP is firm against granting citizenship to foreigners. Instead, we demand new chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to implement Clause 6 as the topmost priority,” AJYCP general secretary Palash Changmai said.

Acclaimed author and intellectual Hiren Gohain said, “The government’s communal viewpoint is reflected in the notification. This is clear because they want to give citizenship to non-Muslim refugees only. That’s why we should get ready to thwart implementation of CAA in future.”

Raijor Dal president and MLA Akhil Gogoi will raise the demand to pass a resolution against CAA implementation in the next assembly session.

Meanwhile, BJP national general secretary Dilip Saikia told TOI that CAA will be implemented in Assam once NRC disputes are settled and rules for implementation of the citizenship law are finalized. After being sworn in as the chief minister earlier this month, Himanta Biswa Sarma said his government favours 20% re-verification of the updated NRC in districts bordering Bangladesh and 10% in rest of the districts.

“The latest notification issued by the Centre is non-political. On CAA, we are waiting to resolve the NRC disputes. CAA will be implemented in Assam, it’s our commitment,” Saikia said.

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