Guwahati, January 2, 2019:
Opposers of the highly controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill are likely to heave a sigh of relief to learn that the Bill has not been listed in this Rajya Sabha session as it is not among the six legislative proposals which will be taken up during the session. But according to our highly placed sources, it too early to celebrate the demise of the Bill and it has been revealed that the ruling NDA-Government fully intends to bring the issue up on either the 6th or 7th of February in the ongoing Rajya Sabha session.
All hell broke loose in Assam when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the Bill would be passed at Silchar. It was subsequently passed in the Lok Sabha, despite protests. And the main feature of its passage? It was quietly ushered through under the guise of a “supplementary Bill” despite muted protests from the opposition. But on the bright side, much has changed between now and then. The uproar over the Bill has reached the ears of the highest-ups in Delhi, with Union Minister Rajnath Singh promising talks with Northeast leaders aggrieved over the Bill.
Yet, despite these assurances, there is a growing sense of fear and insecurity among the people of Assam over the Bill. And the fear is justified. This entire incident reflects back to the post-election disagreements between then-PM Jawaharlal Nehru and Assam’s first Chief Minister Gopinath Bordoloi over the allocation land to Hindu-Bangladeshi immigrants in these parts.
When China barged into the Northeast, advancing as far as Bomdila, 150-kms away from Tezpur in Assam’s Sonitpur district, Nehru said “my heart goes out to the people of Assam” on the All India Radio (AIR). It left a scar on the collective consciousness, many of whom felt they had been left alone to fend for themselves.
Times have changed, but the scars still remain. Many sons and daughters of the Northeast are still protesting against the Bill, which is largely seen as the latest betrayal inflicted by the Centre on the state of Assam. But, the Centre’s continuing indifference to the plight of the region can still be witnessed as the President himself has assured of its passage. All that remains to be seen which will prevail: the BJP-votebank assuring Bill or the will and voices of the indigenous people.