NEW DELHI, July 15: The Government of India is likely to put the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the “cold storage”, at least for the time being following strong protests in Assam and the Centre has decided not to impose the Bill without taking the views of all stakeholders into consideration.
Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune here that the Centre has found itself in a “catch-22 situation” over the Bill and it is finding it difficult to take a decision. That is why, the Bill is likely to be put on hold for the time being till the views of all stakeholders are taken into consideration.
Sources admitted that the Centre did not anticipate such strong protests from different organizations of Assam before bringing the Bill to provide citizenship to the minority communities like Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Now after the strong protests in Assam against the Bill, the government is likely to put it in the “cold storage” for the time being. Sources admitted that because of its failure to anticipate the fact that the Bill may lead to strong protests in Assam, the Centre has now found itself in a fix.
MHA sources said that at present, the government is also not in a position to withdraw the Bill as it would lead to repercussions in some other parts of the country, while, on the other hand, it is also not keen on imposing the same against the wishes of the people of Assam. The government is also not yet considering amending the Bill so that Assam is not affected by it, sources admitted.
However, at the same time, sources revealed that the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), formed to hold talks with the stakeholders seeking opinion on the Bill, would continue its work. The JPC already held a series of talks with different organizations of Assam, both in Delhi and in the State. But the JPC would need some time before submitting its report as members of the panel would have to visit other states to be affected by the Bill before submitting its report and it is unlikely that the committee would be able to do so in the Monsoon Session of the Parliament. On its part, the government will also not ask the JPC to hurry through its proceedings, sources said. Under the circumstances, it is almost certain that the Bill would not come for consideration during the Monsoon Session of the Parliament.
MHA sources also pointed out that Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has already made it clear that the Bill would not be imposed against the wishes of the people and under the circumstances, the government will take a decision only after receiving the JPC report. At the same time, the government is also trying to obtain the views of a cross section of people separately.
Meanwhile, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) has asserted that the agitation against the Bill would continue till it is withdrawn. AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said the student body and 28 organizations representing the ethnic groups of the State would continue their agitation till the Bill as well as the notifications issued in this regard in 2014 are withdrawn. (Courtesy: AT)