Will push CAB afresh, have new NRC: Hemanta Biswa Sarma

Assam minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma set the cat among the pigeons on Monday when he said that the BJP was considering re-introducing the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in the Parliament in November. He also said that there would be a new NRC in the state of Assam.

Sarma was speaking at a public gathering in Karimganj in Assam. The area is very close to the Bangladesh border. Sarma said, “We have held public meetings to explain to the people that all the interests and existing legal provisions in the northeast region for the benefit of the indigenous people will be protected. We respect the inner line permit (ILP) system, Sixth Schedule provisions.”

There has been a rather spirited opposition to the CAB in Assam as the insider vs outsider debate in the state has been along ethnic lines. But the BJP has added a communal dimension to the conflict, purportedly in a bid to consolidate its vote bank. Therefore, while the people of Assam have always stood by the National Register of Citizens (NRC) which was created and updated to help weed out illegal Bangladeshi immigrants (both Hindu and Muslim), the people of Assam have been up in arms against the CAB that grants citizenship to Bengali Hindus, but not Muslims. The state has seen many violent protests against the CAB in the past.

But Sarma hopes to allay these fears by appealing to people’s sense of charity. He said, “People must not think that the bill is against the interest of their culture, language and heritage but that they are giving shelter to unfortunate people.”

Sarma also openly admitted his party’s complete dissatisfaction with the outcome of the final NRC which completely busted the myth of the Bangladeshi bogeyman and instead ended up excluding several people belonging to indigenous tribes and communities. Sarma said, “The Bharatiya Janata Party does not believe in it as it became opposite of what we wanted it to be. We will tell the Supreme Court that the BJP rejects the NRC. It is not a document of identity of the Assamese people.”



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