Asom Gana Parishad snaps ties with BJP over Citizenship Bill

Protesters against the bill have accused settlers of taking away jobs from indigenous groups

A day after pulling out of the BJP-led government in Assam over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the AGP Tuesday demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and dared the saffron party to face fresh polls.

"The people of Assam, for the last 70 years since Independence, have been forced by the Centre to agitate for their rights, language, existence, culture, heritage and infrastructure".

The legislation, which still needs the approval of the upper house, seeks to grant rights to Hindus, Jains, Parsis and several other non-Muslim religious groups who migrated illegally from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

"Today, we burned copies of the bill and hoisted black flags in different towns and sub-divisions of Assam as a mark of protest".

"I have chose to resign from the party because the people and my community are important than the party", said Bora.

AGP president Atul Bora announced the decision after a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

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.

Thirty ethnic organisations also supported the bandh in Assam. "It's a conspiracy of the BJP against the indigenous people of Assam and the region", said Bhattacharya.

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In Nagaland, the cabinet of the NDPP-BJP alliance government has chose to ask the Centre to reconsider the bill. The opposition Congress and the All Indian United Democratic Frontg have 25 and 13 members respectively. In Dehi Trinamool Congress MPs staged a protest in Parliament against the Citizenship Bill.

A number of civil society groups in the Northeast are opposed to the bill - that seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan - saying it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.

"We have identified the stone pelters by seeing video footage and they will be booked soon", Assam police official Surjeet Singh Panesar said.

Political parties in the North-East, especially regional outfits, allege that the Bill is an attempt to make illegal migrants eligible for Indian citizenship on the basis of religion.

The AGP had placed its reservations on the bill before the Joint Parliamentary Committee when the panel had visited the state and also tried to mobilise opinion against the bill among NDA constituents such as the JD (U) and the Shiv Sena, and opposition parties.

Meanwhile, member organisations of the NESO in other states such as Mizo Zirlai Pawal (MZP), All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU), Khasi Students Union (KSU), Garo Students Union (GSU), Naga Students' Federation (NSF), All Manipur Students Union (AMSU) and Twipra Students Federation (TSF) are also supporting the bandh. "This is a bill which is anti-Bengali and also anti-citizens from all other states... this is an anti-citizen bill".

Members of the Tai Ahom Yuva Parishad cut their own skins with blades and wrote slogans on the road tarmac on the streets of Lakhimpur against the bill amid the 11-hour lock-down called by the Northeast Students' Organisation (NESO), All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and another 30 indigenous organisations.

The AGP leaders hoped that Amit Shah's "good office" would certainly take necessary steps so that the bill is not placed in Parliament at any point of time.

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