Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi while addressing a rally at Panitola in Assam’s Tinsukia district has issued a secessionist statement over the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Gogoi said that if Assamese sentiments are not respected than the state will have to secede from the Union Of India.
“If the government gives us the respect we deserve, we are with the nation but if the sentiments of the indigenous Assamese are ignored and the bill is passed, then each Assamese must have the courage to say that they will not be a part of India.” Gogoi was quoted by reports. He was addressing an agitation by 70 organisations against the bill.
The organizations have also alleged that bill violates the basic fundamentals of 1985 Assam Accord, which says anyone who came to the state after March 1971, has to be marked and deported from the state. Organisations, which now includes BJP’s former ally AGP, have alleged that Amendment Bill is a ploy to alter the demographics of the region.
The north-eastern part of India, especially Assam, has witnessed widespread protest and agitation by political parties and pressure groups, after Lok Sabha on 8th January passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The bill’s aim is to provide citizenship to people belonging to persecuted minorities like Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parisi, Jains and Christians, of countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, and who have come to India. The move has been labelled to be against the interests of the people of Assam, as it will allow non-muslims from foreign countries, mainly Bangladesh, to settle there.
Akil Gogoi was already slapped with a sedition case on January 7, after he organised a rally and issued secessionist remarks at Guwahati on January 7, along with Sahitya Akademi winning litterateur Hiren Gohain and senior journalist Manjit Mahanta. The three were booked under sections of 120 (B), 121, 123 and 124 (A). The new comments by him will certainly invite more legal trouble for him.
Akhil Gogoi is a Marxist peasant leader, who started his public life with anti-corruption campaigns. He formed the left-wing organization Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti in 2005. It was also part of India Against Corruption, under the leadership of Anna Hazare. But recently he activities are mainly targetted towards BJP. He is trying to follow the same path as Arvind Kejriwal, starting with an anti-corruption movement against Congress government but gradually turning to become mainly an anti-BJP organisation. He is also suspected to have links with the Maoists.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill is the brainchild of Bharatiya Janta Party and the party has vehemently backed the bill and rubbished the campaigns going on against it. The Architect of Bhartiya Janta Party’s rise in north-east and Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that only way to stop Assam from becoming like Jammu and Kashmir is Citizenship Amendment Bill along with enforcement of clause 6 of the Assam Accord. He said that Hindus have already lost the power to decide in 14 districts of Assam and 30 Assembly seats have already gone. If the bill comes in, Hindus can at least hope to save 17 seats, he added.
Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal has also stated that groups with vested interests are spreading misinformation about the bill and it will in no way bring an influx of immigrants into Assam, contrary to what is being spread among the people.
Dr Ganayanda Barman, a prominent educationist of Assam, has also slammed Gogoi for spreading misinformation regarding the bill. He said that Amendment Bill will provide respite to Bangladeshi Hindus, escaping persecution from the Hands of Bangladeshi Muslims. He added that Hindus of Bangladesh, including women, have been subject to innumerable torture and it is the state’s responsibility to extend help.
“Government is going to implement Clause 6 very soon. We welcome the decision of the government for implementation of Clause 6,” Dr Barman, added. Clause 6 of Assam Accords, seeks to “protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people”. Government jobs, as well as assembly seats, will be reserved for indigenous people under this clause, which will ensure that illegal immigrants can’t occupy power in the state.
However, BJP has also been facing opposition from its own allies like Janta Dal(United) of Bihar, and Shiv Sena of Maharastra. Assam Gana Parishad had also exited NDA, in the wake of the announcement of the bill. AGP has also been successful in convincing other parties of BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance, to come forward and oppose the bill. National People Party’s Supremo and Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma has in clear words, opposed the bill.