Modi

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - METRO - (With in­puts from agen­cies)

He also sought to make a dis­tinc­tion be­tween il­le­gal im­mi­grants from across the bor­der and peo­ple who have fled a neigh­bour­ing coun­try to es­cape per­se­cu­tion on ac­count of their faith.

Il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion is a big is­sue in the north-east (and es­pe­cially in As­sam), and the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to go ahead with the cit­i­zen­ship bill – it has two more days next week to pass it in Par­lia­ment – has pro­voked an­gry re­sponses in the re­gion where the party has made sig­nif­i­cant gains in re­cent years. The Asom Gana Parshid (AGP) re­cently snapped its ties with the BJP gov­ern­ment in As­sam over the cit­i­zen­ship bill. The op­po­si­tion to the bill has united many north-eastern par­ties.

Ten po­lit­i­cal par­ties from the north-east, in­clud­ing the BJP’S cur­rent and for­mer al­lies, came to­gether last month to op­pose the con­tro­ver­sial bill. The par­ties, sev­eral be­long­ing to the Bjp-led North East Demo­cratic Al­liance re­solved to op­pose the bill “in the in­ter­est of the peo­ple of north­east”.

This is of con­cern to the BJP, which was look­ing to bet­ter its tally in the north-east in the sum­mer’s Lok Sabha elec­tions. All told, the seven north-eastern states send 25 rep­re­sen­ta­tives to Par­lia­ment. The BJP cur­rently holds eight of these seats and was hop­ing to in­crease that tally to al­most 20.

The Prime Min­is­ter also said in his speech in As­sam that his gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to im­ple­ment­ing all as­pects of the As­sam Ac­cord, in­clud­ing Clause 6 which prom­ises to have con­sti­tu­tional and le­gal safe­guards for the pro­tec­tion of the cul­tural and so­cial iden­tity of the As­samese.

Modi also said that a lot of protests over the cit­i­zen­ship law were the re­sult of mis­in­for­ma­tion be­ing spread by his ri­vals. The Congress has said the bill will cre­ate eth­nic di­vi­sions not just in As­sam but the en­tire north-east and could lead to a resur­gence of ex­trem­ist groups.

Modi was vis­it­ing As­sam for the first time since the cit­i­zen­ship bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on Jan­uary 8. It awaits the ap­proval of Ra­jya Sabha, where the rul­ing coali­tion is short of num­bers.

In Guwahati, Modi in­au­gu­rated de­vel­op­ment projects worth about ₹18,000 crore in­clud­ing a gas pro­cess­ing plant, a biore­fin­ery, a gas pipe­line and a sixlane bridge. He in­au­gu­rated pro- jects worth more than ₹4,000 crore in Arunachal Pradesh for an air­port near the state cap­i­tal Itana­gar, a hy­dro-elec­tric project, a na­tional tele­vi­sion chan­nel and 50 health and wellness cen­tres.

“Arunachal Pradesh is a strate­gi­cally im­por­tant state re­lated to na­tional se­cu­rity. And yet, ear­lier gov­ern­ments didn’t im­prove fa­cil­i­ties here. The Cen­tre has al­lo­cated funds worth ₹44,000 crore to the state over the past few years,” Modi said.

Speak­ing at a rally in Tripura, Modi ap­pealed to vot­ers to choose a strong gov­ern­ment in the up­com­ing Lok Sabha elec­tions. “You sup­ported us [in assem­bly elec­tions] eleven months ago… I ap­peal to you for sim­i­lar sup­port for the Lok Sabha elec­tions.”

Na­tional Peo­ple’s Party (NPP) pres­i­dent and Megha­laya chief min­is­ter Con­rad K Sangma on Satur­day threat­ened that his party will quit the Bjp-led Na­tional Demo­cratic Al­liance (NDA) if the pro­posed leg­is­la­tion is passed in Ra­jya Sabha.

Re­act­ing to Modi’s re­marks, As­sam Congress MLA De­babrata Saikia said: “The cit­i­zen­ship bill will en­cour­age fun­da­men­tal­ist el­e­ments in Bangladesh, Pak­istan and Afghanistan and… lead to a loss of cul­tural iden­tity in As­sam.”

Atul Bora of the Asom Gana Par­ishad said the bill will vi­o­late pro­vi­sions of the As­sam Ac­cord which as­sure the pro­tec­tion of As­samese cul­tural iden­tity. fa­mil­iar with the mat­ter, the is­sue has been re­peat­edly flagged at meet­ings of the Rashtriya Swayam­se­vak Sangh (RSS), the ide­o­log­i­cal par­ent of the BJP.

Twit­ter de­nied these al­le­ga­tions. In a state­ment is­sued on Fri­day, the com­pany said, “Twit­ter is a global plat­form that serves a global, pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion. El­e­vat­ing de­bate and open dis­course is fun­da­men­tal to the plat­form’s ser­vice, and its core val­ues as a com­pany. Twit­ter is com­mit­ted to re­main un­bi­ased with the pub­lic in­ter­est in mind.”

“The pub­lic con­ver­sa­tion around Twit­ter’s policies and ac­tions may be dis­torted by some who have a po­lit­i­cal agenda and this may be par­tic­u­larly acute dur­ing election cy­cles when highly-charged po­lit­i­cal rhetoric be­comes more com­mon. For our part, we will en­deav­our to be even more trans­par­ent in how we develop and en­force our policies to dis­pel con­spir­acy the­o­ries and mis­trust,” Colin Crow­ell, global vice pres­i­dent, pub­lic pol­icy, Twit­ter, added in the state­ment.

A se­nior func­tionary of the RSS said it was soon after the Jan­uary 1, 2018 clash be­tween Maratha and Dalit groups in Ma­ha­rash­tra’s Bhima Kore­gaon that es­ca­lated into vi­o­lence that func­tionar­ies of the Sangh be­gan to notice posts on so­cial me­dia that were al­legedly “anti-na­tional” and had the po­ten­tial to cre­ate “com­mu­nal fric­tion”.

The con­tent of some of the posts was con­strued to be sim­i­lar to the ex­pres­sions used by so-called “ur­ban nax­als”, this per­son said on con­di­tion of anonymity. Ur­ban nax­als is a term coined by the right wing for left­wing in­tel­lec­tu­als who, they say, are sus­pected to have links to Maoist or­gan­i­sa­tions.

“Posts that spoke of desta­bil­is­ing the na­tion, that at­tacked the sovereignty of the coun­try were be­ing put up. No ac­tion was be­ing taken, de­spite com­plaints to Twit­ter,” the func­tionary added.

It was then that the Sangh chose to knock on Thakur’s doors.

With 34.4 mil­lion users, Twit­ter has emerged as a key plat­form for po­lit­i­cal and so­cial con­ver­sa­tions. Given the reach of the medium, even the Election Com­mis­sion has been mon­i­tor­ing the posts to en­sure there is no ad­verse im­pact on election pro­cesses.

Ex­perts said Twit­ter and other plat­forms need to be­come more trans­par­ent. “Un­less Twit­ter and other in­ter­net gi­ants im­ple­ment prin­ci­ples of nat­u­ral jus­tice, they will al­ways be ac­cused of bias,” said Su­nil Abra­ham, co-founder of the think tank Cen­tre for In­ter­net and So­ci­ety, adding that the plat­form does not “pro­vide suf­fi­cient trans­parency re­gard­ing its de­ci­sions”.

Lawyer Apar Gupta said that the par­lia­men­tary panel on IT needs to f unc­tion more ro­bustly. “It has not in­vited ex­perts, aca­demics, and civil so­ci­ety voices for de­lib­er­a­tions. Also, the out­comes from hear­ings such as the ones on Aad­haar, pri­vacy. data breaches, and net neu­tral­ity, done a while back, re­main out­stand­ing. Re­ports or rec­om­men­da­tions have not been made to par­lia­ment.”

In gen­eral, par­lia­men­tary pan­els do al­low hear­ings to be de­ferred at the re­quest of some­one who has been sum­moned, al­though this is usu­ally at the dis­cre­tion of the chair­man and also if the re­quest is made im­me­di­ately after the sum­mons is is­sued.

Gupta added that usu­ally, a breach of priv­i­lege com­plaint is made by the chair­man of the com­mit­tee to the Lok Sabha speaker “who will then ap­prove it and send it to the Priv­i­leges Com­mit­tee of the Lok Sabha”. ob­server of Nadia district. The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Ben­gal pres­i­dent Dilip Ghosh re­futed the al­le­ga­tions and said: “It’s a most un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent. Anubrata Mon­dal (Tri­namool party pres­i­dent of Birb­hum district) is im­port­ing this cul­ture of vi­o­lence from Birb­hum to Nadia. We want the truth to be re­vealed. Crim­i­nals have united un­der the ban­ner of the rul­ing party. The ten­dency to la­bel ac­cu­sa­tions against the BJP must end. Has any­one of the BJP ever been found to be linked with in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence, though al­le­ga­tions are made all the time?” The BJP’S Ben­gal unit gen­eral sec­re­tary Sayan­tan Basu al­leged that Biswas’s death could be an out­come of Tri­namool’s fac­tional fights. He de­manded that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the case be handed over to cen­tral agen­cies.

The in­ci­dent comes amid po­lit­i­cal ten­sion in the state, with Tri­namool Congress pres­i­dent and West Ben­gal chief min­is­ter Ma­mata Ban­er­jee re­cently hold­ing a sit-in in Kolkata after block­ing the Cen­tral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion’s at­tempt to ar­rest the city’s po­lice com­mis­sioner Ra­jeev Ku­mar in the Saradha chit fund fraud case. The Supreme Court later said the CBI should not take any “co­er­cive ac­tion” against Ku­mar, but al­lowed his ques­tion­ing by the agency in Shil­long. Both Ban­er­jee and lead­ers of the BJP claimed vic­tory over the is­sue after the apex court’s rul­ing.

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