By seeking to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 despite the widespread protests in Assam, the Centre is literally playing with fire. Saturday’s blast in Guwahati is a pointer.
The explosion, which left four people injured, was indicative enough what is in store. The “commander-in-chief” of insurgent group United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA-Independent), Paresh Baruah, said the explosion was triggered as a mark of protest against the Centre’s move to pass the Citizenship Bill which would legalise the stay of Hindu Bengali immigrants (read non-Muslim immigrants) in Assam. Baruah also said the blast was against the conspiracy being hatched against the updation of National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The attack came amidst growing speculations in Assam that the Citizenship Bill will be passed during the Winter Session of Parliament. The blast, triggered by the ULFA-I, was not massive but it has served the purpose. It has the potential to provoke the sentiments of indigenous communities against the Citizenship Bill which seeks to grant citizenship to the non-Muslim immigrants who came to India till December 31, 2014.
Assam’s problem is about illegal immigration from Bangladesh. A reason the locals are annoyed is that the bill, if passed, will make the exercise of updation of NRC meaningless. This is because, people detected as illegal immigrants, will be eventually protected by the controversial bill.
The BJP argues that it is the duty of the country to take care of communities, persecuted in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and they can be protected through the granting of citizenship to them. However, the BJP’s critics say the party’s soft corner for the “Hindu Bangladeshis” was for votes. In the 2016 Assam elections, the BJP did well in every constituency where the Bengali Hindus have a sizeable population.
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