Modi reaches out to north-east on citizenship issue
ALLAYING FEARS PM launches projects in Assam, Arunachal, Tripura
GUWAHATI/AGARTALA/CHANGSARI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the people of Assam and other north-eastern states on Saturday that they would not be disadvantaged by the citizenship bill, which aims to grant citizenship rights to non-Muslim minorities from three neighbouring countries – among his first public statements on an issue that has roiled the region.
The Prime Minister’s comments came in a speech in Guwahati, Assam; the Prime Minister also addressed rallies in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh and Agartala, Tripura. On Friday, in Guwahati, the Prime Minister’s cavalcade was met by hundreds of black-flag-waving protesters who signalled their opposition to the proposed law.
“People who ruined this country are now spreading lies… about the bill for their own benefit. We need to be wary of them,” Modi said.
“It is a national commitment to the people of the north-east that they will not be harmed in any way and citizenship will only be granted after due investigation and recommendation of the state governments,” he said.
Protests have broken out in north-eastern states over the citizenship bill amid concern that the legislation could dilute local and indigenous identity by accelerating demographic change. The bill provides that “persons belonging to minority communities, namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan” shall not be considered illegal migrants.
The PM assured his Assamese audience that citizenship would be granted to the people from the three neighbouring countries only after they are vetted by the state government and after a recommendation by the latter.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering in Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh, on Saturday.