India's lower house passes citizenship bill that excludes Muslims

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It is supported by the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which withdrew support to the BJP-led government in Assam on Monday, the opposition Congress, the AIUDF, and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS).

"Dipankar Nath, the president of AASU, which had led the six-year-long Assam Movement against illegal immigrants, said, "Despite wide opposition to it, the BJP government at the Centre has undemocratically imposed the bill on us as they want to win the (Lok Sabha) election by taking the votes of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants".

"We had pointed out to Sonowal that people had accorded him the title of "Jatiya Nayak" (leader of the community) after the Supreme Court scrapped the Illegal Migrants' Determination by Tribunal (IMDT) Act following his petition and it was his duty to respect people's sentiments on the issue", he said.

It referred to the understanding arrived at prior to the Assam Assembly election, 2016, and said the AGP had made a decision to go for the alliance during a discussion with the BJP in New Delhi on "the basis of clear understanding of the Assam Accord, other major issues of Assam, including the seat adjustments".

The three AGP ministers and a senior party MLA had gone to New Delhi to meet the prime minister who is yet to give them an appointment.

The committee also heard the views of the chief secretaries and police chiefs of Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and West Bengal. "The Assamese and other indigenous peoples feel betrayed by the Narendra Modi government, which seems hell bent upon making Assam a dumping ground for foreigners thereby threatening our existence", AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattarcharya said.

That could hurt the BJP's goal of sharply increasing its parliamentary seats from the northeast region of the country in the national election. The bandh supporters vandalize the office of BJP at Golaghat. The indigenous people have been opposing the bill as they feel that granting citizenship status to immigrants will erode their limited opportunities in terms of employment and other social benefits.

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The Union Cabinet on Monday cleared the redrafted Citizenship Amendment Bill, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said.

Earlier in November past year, several protests were witnessed across the state of Assam against the bill.

"We have raised the issue in the last meeting of NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance) in Guwahati recently".

Tripura's oldest tribal based party INPT (Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura) blocked the national highway and the lone railway line in the state last month, demanding withdrawal of the Bill. According to TMC MP Derek O'Brien, the party is opposing the Bill on the ground that, "no Indian citizen should be left out".

There was widespread protests in the state against the bill and, for the first time, the media was also out on the street to register their protest against it, the Assam agriculture minister claimed.

Introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016, the Bill seeks to enable Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh without valid travel documents or those whose valid documents expired in recent years to acquire Indian citizenship through the process of naturalisation. The party had also taken out a rally against the bill in October.

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