A contempt of court petition has been filed against BJP chief Amit Shah in the Supreme Court. It pertains to his alleged comments about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 (CAB) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam.
The SC has directed that the NRC be published by July 31, 2019. The petitioner alleges that Shah’s statement appears to suggest that the publication would be put on hold for the CAB and is therefore tantamount to contempt of court.
The applicant, the Assam Andolon Sangrami Manch, is an organisation that is opposed to the CAB’s provision to grant Indian citizenship to Hindu, Jain, Christian and Sikh people from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. They allege that Bengali speaking migrants to Assam are ‘foreigners’ and that their influx threatens the demography, culture and economy of the state. The petitioners blame these ‘foreigners’ for the shortage of cultivable land, industrial backwardness and unemployment in Assam.
The problematically worded petition says, “The recent statements of the party president of the BJP Shri Amit Shah at various election rallies and press conference at West Bengal that the Citizenship Act 1955 (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will come first and then the NRC will come so that Hindu Infiltrators could be incorporated in the NRC by giving them citizenship has left the people of Assam shocked, surprised and scared. This statement has given a colour of religion in the process of updating the NRC.”
This is in line with the stand taken by various pro-Assamese and anti-Bengali chauvinistic groups in Assam who see both, Hindu and Muslim Bengalis as foreigners and find their presence in the state undesirable. Needless to say, one way or the other, the divisions run deep. Whether Assam is divided along religious lines or ethnic, at the end of the day, it is a body blow to humanity