Assam divided over citizenship bill: Governor Mukhi

Amid the continuing row in Assam over the citizenship amendment bill, Governor Jagdish Mukhi today said the state is completely divided over the issue and the government is seized of the matter.

He also tried to allay apprehensions on the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is being updated in Assam, saying commendable work is being done to prepare an error-free list of genuine Indians living in the state.

"Assam is divided over the issue (citizenship amendment bill). The Brahmaputra valley has a different view and the Barak valley different. Not only political parties, but social, cultural, literary organisations have taken their respective stand. The state government is seized of the matter. I have seen the Union Home Minister's statement and that is sufficient," he told reporters here.

Mukhi said as the constitutional head of the state, he has limitations and cannot make any political comment on the issue.

Last week, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said the people of Assam should not be apprehensive about the proposed law and any future step would be taken only after consultations with all stakeholders.

Assam has been witnessing protests against the central government's move to enact the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 that seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India due to religious persecution in those countries.

Organisations spearheading the protests said that the bill, if passed, would pave the way for giving citizenship to illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in Assam.

Referring to the ongoing exercise to update the NRC, Mukhi said it was one of the biggest works being done in the state, thanks to the Supreme Court.

"Lot of hard work and dedication is involved in it. People too had to take lot of pain (to enroll their names). It is being done due to the stand taken by the Supreme Court. The work is being done peacefully," he said.

When asked about the

possible law-and-order situation when the final draft of the NRC will be published on June 30, Mukhi said when the first draft of the NRC was published on December 31, 2017, there was lot of apprehension but nothing had happened.

"So, let this process be over. Be hopeful and positive. I think everything will be alright," he said.

A massive exercise to update the NRC was being carried out in Assam following a directive of the Supreme Court in 2005. A total of 3.29 crore people applied for inclusion in the NRC. In the first list, 1.9 crore names were included.

The NRC was last updated in Assam way back in 1951. Then, it had recorded 80 lakh citizens in the state. Since then, the process of identification of illegal immigrants in Assam has been debated and become a contentious issue in the state's politics

A six-year agitation demanding identification and deportation of illegal immigrants was launched by the influential All Assam Students' Union (AASU) in 1979. It culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985 in the presence of the then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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