Assam needs ILP-type protection, says Mahanta

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assam-needs-ilpGuwahati: Former chief minister and founder president of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has appealed to the Centre to provide special constitutional safeguards, modelled on the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system, in the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, to protect the indigenous people of the state.

The bill, which was tabled in Parliament on August 11, seeks to give citizenship rights to persecuted religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is currently being examined by a joint select committee of Parliament after opposition parties said it needed more scrutiny.

Leading a delegation under the banner of Asom Andolan Sangrami Mancha, Mahanta recently met committee members in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum opposing the bill.

“We have explained our points in the memorandum. Assam bore the burden of foreigners till 1971. Just the way outsiders cannot buy property in states like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram, Assam, too, needs similar safeguards,” Mahanta told reporters here on Saturday.

The three states mentioned by Mahanta have the Inner Line Permit system which restricts the entry and stay of ‘outsiders’. Another northeastern state, Manipur, has been on the boil over the ILP issue for months now.

“The bill is an insult to the Assam Accord. Anyone who entered the state after March 25, 1971, is an illegal citizen irrespective of religion, caste and creed. So we appeal to all concerned to oppose the bill in writing before October 30,” he said. Mahanta added that he would discuss the issue at the party level even though AGP is part of the state’s ruling coalition.

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