Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal promises to prepare draft and 'clear the air' around citizenship

Free Press Journal | Updated on: Friday, December 20, 2019, 10:23 PM IST

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal addressing a press conference regarding Citizenship Amendment Act in Guwahati on Friday. | ANI Photo
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal addressing a press conference regarding Citizenship Amendment Act in Guwahati on Friday. | ANI Photo

Guwahati: After maintaining his surprising silence ever since the eruption of anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in Assam, state chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, while addressing media persons at his official residence on Friday, assured the people of the state that a draft will be prepared to clear air around citizenship under CAA soon.

Elaborating on various government plans, Sonowal said that the draft will clear the air around citizenship and give details about the exact number of foreigners who would get citizenship under the CAA.

This announcement of Assam chief minster assumes significance as a group of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislators met him at his official residence in Guwahati on Thursday afternoon and requested his intervention so that the fears and doubts of people regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) can be cleared as soon as possible. The BJP legislators’ delegation also requested Sonowal to clarify his stand on all the major issues raised during the anti-CAA movement “one by one”.

Commenting on the state government initiative to protect and preserve language, culture and land of the indigenous people of Assam, Sonowal said that CAA can’t hamper the Assamese language. He also assured the people that enough necessary steps will be taken to make Assamese as the state language forever. Announcing that the state government respects the demands put forth by the protesters and the several bodies protesting against CAA, Sonwal said, “There are some third party which are trying to spread fake news, create violence taking advantage of the democratic protests.”

He appealed to all protesters to consider him and his Cabinet colleagues as one among them and invited the protesters to discuss any issue that they might have with him and his ministers. “I appeal to people to come and discuss with us all their concerns so that we can move ahead with positive approach. I am with the people of Assam. Because of them I was elected as the CM. We have invited all stakeholders for a conclusive discussion”.

Urging the minority communities of the state, Sonowal in his speech, further said that no one from the minority communities staying in Assam should feel isolated under the regime of the BJP-led state government.

Reacting sharply, adviser of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), Dr Samujjal Kumar Bhatacharyya, has severely criticised the chief minister’s comment on the protection of language and property of the indigenous people of Assam.

“It’s really unfortunate that chief minister Sonowal is trying to inviting the foreign nationals to Assam. One way he is helping the Centre to implement CAA and on other hand he is speaking for protection of the interest of the indigenous people residing in Assam. Can he elaborate us about the formula he will adopt to solve the problem,” Bhatacharya questioned.

Former Assam chief minister and veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi also criticised chief minister Sonowal and alleged that Sonowal is maintaining double standard to misled the masses.

Meanwhile, amid widespread resentment among the masses against the CAA, BJP supporters in large numbers took part in a peace rally at Nalbari, almost 80km-away from Guwahati, on Friday. Headed by Assam chief minister Sonowal, the rally was attended by hundreds of BJP supporters coming from different parts of the state. Senior Assam ministers, including Himanta Biswa Sarma, party MLAs also took part in the rally.

On the other hand, the Gauhati High Court has rejected the Assam government’s review petition against resumption of mobile internet services in the state on Friday. Earlier on Thursday, the Gauhati High Court had directed the chief secretary of Assam to restore mobile internet services state-wide by 5 pm on that day.

One of the leading rights group of Assam, Assam Public Works (APW), has urged Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma to demand the Centre for a single Inner Line Permit (ILP) system for all Northeast states and make rules so that only indigenous people of the region can buy and sell land in their respective states as per the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India.

A delegation, headed by APW president Aabhijeet Sharma, met Sangma in Meghalaya on Friday morning.

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Published on: Friday, December 20, 2019, 10:23 PM IST