Assam to block rally for Citizenship Bill

The Assam government has said it would not allow a proposed rally of 27 Bengali organisations in support of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. This followed a State-wide shutdown call by a conglomerate of 42 organisations of indigenous communities on October 23, coinciding with the scheduled meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee with officials of the Home and External Affairs Ministries on the controversial Bill. The Citizens’ Rights Protection Forum-Assam, an umbrella organisation of Bengali groups, had proposed the pro-Citizenship Bill rally in Guwahati on November 17. The pro-talks faction of the United National Liberation Front had warned the forum against organising the rally. “We will not allow the proposed rally because of possible law and order problem,” Additional Director-General of Police (Special Branch) Pallab Bhattacharya said. Several NGOs and political parties had asked the State government to clear its stand on the rally that they deemed intimidating. AGP annoyed Former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) would contest the next panchayat poll on its own if New Delhi went ahead with its plan to clear the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The AGP is a minor partner in the coalition government led by the BJP in Assam. “We hope the BJP-led government at the Centre would take note of popular sentiments in Assam and not pass the Citizenship Bill that could make the Assamese people minorities in their own land,” Mr Mahanta said.

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