GUWAHATI: Even as the opposition against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, gains momentum, All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), an influential students’ body has reached out to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar among others at the national level.

Assam has witnessed mass opposition ever since the Bill,which endorses citizenship to all non-Muslims from neighbouring countries till December 31 of 2014, has been tabled in Parliament in 2016.

AASU leaders who met the Bihar CM at Patna recently said that tKumar had promised to write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi opposing the bill.

“Nitish Kumar’s support is a major development for our cause as we need strong leaders at the national level to take up this issue and support our stand. Well aware of the history of the students movement in the State and the problem of cross-border infiltration, he has assured us to write to the Prime Minister,” AASU advisor Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharyya told the media.

AASU who was represented by its president Dipanka Kumar Nath and general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi are also planning to meet other national leaders to form a consensus against the bill.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was tabled in Parliament in August 2016, seeks to give citizenship to religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan in India. The Bill, however, was referred to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), after the Opposition protested.

“He (Nitish Kumar) also told us that in a secular country like India, citizenship cannot be granted on the basis of religion,” Bhattacharyya added. Harivansh Narayan Singh, MP from Bihar and a member of the JPC was also present in the meeting.

AASU and most of the organizations have accepted March 25, 971 as the cut off date to identify illegal citizens according to the Assam Accord which was signed after a six-year long Assam agitation in 1985 by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and does not discriminate on the basis of caste and creed.

AASU has now joined hands with the students’ organizations of the seven states in the region to oppose the Bill tooth and nail. North East Students’ Association (NESO), an umbrella organization has already started a series of agitations across the region.

NESO comprises Khasi Students Union (KSU), Naga Students Federation (NSF), Garo Students’ Union (GSU), All Manipur Students Union (AMSU), Tripura Students’ Federation (TSF), All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU), Mizo Students’ Association (MSA) and All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).

NESO is also demanding a National Register of Citizen (NRC) in all the northeast states to segregate illegal residents. The students’ body has also reiterated their demand of having Inner Line Permit (ILP) for all the states.

The ILP is an official document issued by the government to Indian citizens as well as foreigners to travel to states like Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.

“It’s enough. We the people of the northeast have suffered a lot at the hand of the central government. But we are not going to sit idle here. We want special constitutional safeguard and we demand that NRC should be implemented in all the northeastern states. We have already taken the burden of many illegal citizens in the region and no more we want that. We just can’t accept any illegal citizens at any cost. We, rather, demand that the government should implement ILP system in all the NE states so that our indigenous people are safeguarded,” said NESO chairman Samuel B Jyrwa as they staged a sit in demonstration programme in Guwahati recently.

The students’ body will also go to New Delhi to stage their demonstration against the bill.