GUWAHATI: All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), an influential students’ body of the region has decided to start a mass agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill across Assam.

Prominent citizens from different walks of life and representatives of 28 ethnic organizations have put their weight behind AASU at a public convention in Guwahati on Saturday.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was tabled in Parliament in August, seeks to give citizenship to religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan in India. The bill, however, was referred to the Joint Select Committee of Parliament, following the opposition said the bill needed more scrutiny.

AASU and other organizations including political and others believe that this will threaten the identity crisis of the indigenous people of the region and also ‘contradicts’ the secular character of the Constitution of India.

“The central government’s move to eradicate the identity and rights of the indigenous people with the Citizenship Amendment Bill will be opposed and dialogue along with the agitation will continue till it is removed,” said AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya reading out the resolutions in Guwahati.

He said that the state government must convey the public opinion of the state to the central government against the bill. “It must be ensured that under no circumstances Assam is subjected to shoulder the burden of post 1971 migrants. Our demand is to implement the Assam Accord in letter and spirit,” he said.

The Assam Accord was signed between the central government, AASU and Asom Gana Sangram Parishad following a bloody agitation of six years in 1985 to make the state free of illegal migrants. According to the Accord, anyone irrespective of their religion, cast and creed, who have entered the country after March 25 of 1971 is an illegal citizen.

Bhattacharyya said that the bill violates the norms of Assam Accord and it contradicts the Constitution of India. “India is a secular country and no decision can be taken in the religious ground. Besides, it violates the Assam Accord. At any cost we cannot accept this bill,” he asserted.

The representatives of AASU will meet the members of the joint select committee in New Delhi on October 25.

Former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi, who was at the helm for the three consecutive terms, said that the BJP has taken a U turn. “BJP used to say that coming to power, they would take all the steps to free the state from illegal migrants. Now they are taking steps to accommodate the illegal foreigners. This is harmful to the state,” said Gogoi during a press conference recently.

Another former chief minister and founder president of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has also been vocal against the bill though his party is an ally with BJP in the state.

“We may be in the alliance but it does not end our responsibility for the state and its people. We are against such developments and we will continue opposing it. In India how can the BJP divide the migrants in the line of religion? If the Indian government want to do something for the people belonging to the minority community in neighbouring countries, their government should be pressurized instead to taking the burden of their people,” said Mahanta.

Along with it, he also said that the scenario has much improved for the Hindus in Bangladesh. “We have seen that Durga puja was celebrated in a grand way in Bangladesh. This indicates that the situation is not bad as being highlighted by BJP,” Mahanta added.

All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU), another powerful students’ organization has also opposed the bill. ABSU president Pramod Boro said that it’s the central government’s ploy to disturb the region.