Refugees' attack on Assam students' union office: Centre's Citizenship Act may just add fuel to fire

Will Assam flare up again after allegedly a group of refugees ransacked the office of the All Assam Students Union on Monday. The students were in a rally demanding granting Indian citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis who crossed the border after facing religious persecution in their home country?

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The question gains importance as the Centre proposes to amend the citizenship Act to grant Hindu migrants from Bangladesh Indian Citizenship, along with other minority communities who have migrated to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan.

The Sentinel reported the incident, “In an unprecedented development with serious implications for the State, a rally taken out by a Bengali Hindu refugees organisation at Silapathar in Dhemaji district on Monday went out of control with rowdy elements attacking the local office of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and ransacking it.”

The newspaper further stated that a meeting was held in Silapathar before the rally where members of Nikhil Bharat Bangali Udbastu Samanvay Samiti (NIBBUSS) took part. In the meeting, problems faced by the community including the ‘D’ voter issue were discussed. The participants in the meeting reportedly rejected the Assam Accord and spoke in favour of the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill planned to be introduced by the Central government.

Dr Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya, advisor to AASU, warned the state government of a serious situation if the culprit of the incident was not arrested within 24 hours, reported the newspaper.

The attack on the AASU office has caused much tension in the state, where the administration had to impose prohibitionary order under section 144 of the Indian Penal Code to control situation. As per media reports, the administration arrested 11 persons for the ransacking.

But despite the state government’s attempt to douse the situation, another incident where 4 shops were ransacked by a group of unidentified persons in Golaghat district occurred on Monday night.

Professor Apurba Kumar Boruah, a left-wing intellectual told Firstpost that these incidents may revive ethnic tension in the state, as clearing Bangladeshi immigrants is one of the most contentious issues in Assam.

While speaking to Firstpost AASU General Secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said, “We do not know whether the situation will flare up. But a series of agitations will follow from today onwards to protest against this act of vandalism.”

He further said that though the state government has arrested a few persons, the main culprit Subodh Biswas, who incited violence, is still at large.

Gogoi also alleged that the mischief happened due to the ruling BJP’s move to grant citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis.

“The BJP led NDA government has decided to grant citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis, by amending the Citizenship Act. This has encouraged the illegal migrants who are sheltering in Assam to resort to the violence,” he said.

It is noteworthy that the Assam Accord that was signed after the historic Assam agitation between the government of India and AASU in 1985 said that no foreign national entering the state of Assam after 24 March 1971, would be granted citizenship of India.

But the Centre has decided to amend the Citizenship Act to grant citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis who entered Assam even after the cut-off date.

Though the move to amend the citizenship Act has been welcomed by refugees but is stiffly opposed by AASU that demands that the Accord must be adhered to.

Lurinjyoti Gogoi further alleged that Subodh Biswas is a person who is not a resident of Assam, but is close to a few BJP leaders at the Centre. So he smells BJP involvement in the incident.

All this may not only cause unrest in Assam, but also hinder passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act, which is presently being examined by the joint parliamentary committee.

Updated Date: Mar 07, 2017 20:49 PM

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