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9 MPs raised Assam concern in their dissent notes to JPC

Senior BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab, whose party supported the Bill in Parliament, expressed in his dissent note, which is annexed to the JPC report that, “the present Bill contravenes the provision of the principal Act and goes against the spirit of Assam Accord.. This will open floodgates thereby accentuating discontent among the people of Assam.”

, ET Bureau|
Dec 13, 2019, 09.16 AM IST
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New Delhi: Nine MPs from five political parties in the 30-member Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) had red flagged the negative consequences of CAB in Assam.

Senior BJD leader Bhartruhari Mahtab, whose party supported the Bill in Parliament, expressed in his dissent note, which is annexed to the JPC report that, “the present Bill contravenes the provision of the principal Act and goes against the spirit of Assam Accord. In an already densely populated state, this will open floodgates thereby accentuating discontent among the people of Assam.”

The concern over the Assam Accord was also echoed by the law ministry’s department of legal affairs, which felt that CAB “appears to be contrary to the Assam Accord”. However, there were differences of opinion between the two wings of the Union law ministry.

The legislative department took a different stand by stating that section 6A of the 1955 Citizenship Act dealt only with foreigners who entered India, from Bangladesh to Assam between January 1, 1966 and March 24, 1971.

The legislative department added, “The proposed proviso to exempt persons belonging to certain minority communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan has general application beyond the Assam Accord and is intended to apply to the whole of India.”

It emphasised that there appears to be no conflict in the application of the proposed proviso regarding exemption of minority communities coming from Bangladesh to Assam between 1 January 1966 and 24 March 1971, as per the Assam Accord.

In its final report, the committee agreed on the cut-off date of December 31, 2014, but impressed upon the government to begin border fencing to stop further influx of illegal migrants.

Former Congress MP from Assam Bhunabeshwar Kalita also cited the Assam Accord and dissented on the grounds that the Bill “may create ethnic division in Assam and North East”. Kalita had left the Congress in August this year and joined the BJP in Assam. “During the committee’s visit, it has been noticed that a large section of people is opposed to certain provisions of the Bill,” Kalita, along with another Congress MP Pradip Bhattacharya, wrote in a dissent note on January 4, 2019.

Another former Congress MP from Silchar, Sushmita Dev has opposed the Bill in the current form and cited the Assam Accord and NRC. “…It is totally misleading to state that there is no conflict and in fact the Assam Accord and this Bill are in conflict. The issue of foreigners cannot be solved till there is a conflict. The government has no real intention of giving citizenship and that’s the reason they left Clause 5 of the Assam Accord intact. I state with great disappointment that this Bill is nothing but a futile exercise and at best NRC part 2,” she wrote.

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