Rally against order on regularising foreigners’ stay

New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) Over 100 people led by leaders connected to the six-year-long anti-foreigners Assam agitation staged a rally here on Friday to protest the Centre’s two notifications that sought to regularise the stay of Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities living in India.

Held under the banner of the Asom Andolan Sangrami Manch (AASM), the rally at Jantar Mantar was led by Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader and former Assam chief minister Prafulla Mahanta, who is also the chief advisor to the newly-formed AASM.

Mahanta was the president of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) when the historic Assam Accord was signed on August 15, 1985, to end the six-year-long mass movement.

The accord was signed between the central and Assam governments on one side and the AASU and the now defunct All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad, who spearheaded the movement, on the other, in the presence of then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

However, after the Centre’s notification earlier this month, protests broke out all over Assam with people saying that it was totally against the Assam Accord.

According to the notifications issued by the home ministry on September 7, the central government has decided, on humanitarian considerations, to exempt Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014, from the relevant provisions of rules and order made under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and the Foreigners Act, 1946, in respect of their entry and stay in India without such documents or after the expiry of those documents, as the case may be.

A number of Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities such as Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists, were compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious persecution or fear of religious persecution, the notification said.

The Assam Accord stipulates that all foreigners who came to Assam on or after March 25, 1971, will be detected, their names deleted from electoral rolls and then deported.

According to Mahanta, the notification not only violates various provisions of the Constitution, but has also rendered the Assam Accord and the Citizenship Act, 1955, null and void.

“As it is, the Assam Accord was never fully implemented. Now, what even successive Congress-led governments did not dare to do, the NDA government has done,” he told IANS here.

“It will threaten the identity and culture of the indigenous people of Assam. So, soon after the notification was issued, a number of our leaders associated with the Assam agitation got together and formed the Asom Andolan Sangrami Manch to raise the issue,” he said.

A seven-member AASM delegation led by Mahanta, who came to the national capital, met President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari and submitted memorandums seeking their intervention on the matter.

Copies of the memorandum were also submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and leaders of all opposition parties, the AGP leader said.

The memorandum stated that the two notifications “are not only destroying the Preamble of the Constitution of India but is also highly contemptuous, as various proceedings are pending before the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court where the question of validity of Section 6-A of the Citizenship Act, 1955, is being questioned”.

“Therefore, the government of India ought not to have issued the impugned notifications on the highly sensitive issue which is subjudice before the apex court of the country,” it added.

It appealed to the president that he, as custodian of the Constitution and the protector of democracy, direct the government to rescind the notifications.

“Lets see what comes out of the memorandum. We are talking with lawyers and may even move the Supreme Court on this issue,” Mahanta said.

He also said that on October 6, a meeting of people associated with the Assam movement will be held in Guwahati.

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