GUWAHATI: Influential peasants’ leader Akhil Gogoi said that if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is passed people in Assam will be forced to seek separation from India. Hundreds of individuals and representatives of various organizations have come out on Monday to stage their opposition against the bill.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was tabled in the parliament in August, 2016, seeks to give citizenship to religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan in India who have come here till December 31 of 2014.

The Bill, however, was referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) following the opposition said the bill needed more scrutiny. The JSC will come to a conclusion after meeting different sections of individuals, experts, groups.

On Monday, the JPC is hearing public views in Guwahati. Akhil Gogoi who has been vocal against the bill ever since it was tabled in Parliament said that if passed the bill will kill the basic characteristics of the Indian constitution.

“We have raised all the issues in front of the committee. It’s a dangerous development for the people of the state. The bill is against the spirit of our Constitution. No democracy in the world has ever done that in the name of religion. If the Centre conspires to pass the bill, we might have to seek separation from India and many will take up arms to oppose the move,” Gogoi told reporters after meeting the committee.

Akhil Gogoi also said that if the bill is passed around 1 crore 90 lakh people will get the access to be here.

Meerut MP Rajendra Agarwal is the chairman of the JPC which also hasAssam MP Sushmita Dev, Bhubaneswar Kalita, Ramen Deka and Kamakhya Tasa as member

Asom Gana Parishad, a regional party which is an ally in the BJP led government in the state has also opposed the bill. AGP president and state agriculture minister Atul Bora has said that being in the alliance will not stop them from opposing the bill.

“We have strongly opposed the bill as it clearly violates the Indian Constitution. Besides, it contradicts the Assam Accord which says anybody irrespective of caste, creed and religion, whoever has come to Assam after March 25 of 1971 is an illegal citizen. For us, the interest of the people comes first,” said Bora.

Assam Accord was signed in 1985 with the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi led central government after a bloody agitation to flush out the illegal foreigners.

AGP founding president and former two-time chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta too submitted a memorandum on behalf of the signatories of the Assam Accord.

Besides, all the tribal bodies, literary bodies and students’ organizations have expressed their opposition against the bill.

All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) has already submitted the memorandum opposing the move in New Delhi recently. All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU) said that if the bill is passed there will be no value of National Register of Citizens (NRC) which is being updated in the state.

“We all are hopeful of getting rid of the illegal citizens’ problems for ever after the NRC update process is done. But if the Bill is passed, it will have no value,” said AAMSU vice president Ainuddin Ahmed.

Assam Pradesh Congress Committee and All India United Democratic Front have also expressed their opposition against the bill. After hearing in Guwahati, the JPC will go to Silchar for further hearing in the Barak Valley.