Guwahati, India – The new riots are simmering in parts of the state of Assam in northeastern India after a closure on Tuesday in protest against proposed changes to a controversial citizenship law that purportedly aims to differentiate immigrants on the basis of the religion.
The government of the Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata (BJP) plans to amend the citizenship law that will make it easier for Hindus, Buddhists and Christians from neighboring countries to obtain Indian citizenship.
Activists and opposition leaders say the bill discriminates against Muslims and violates India's secular constitution.
|Binod Doley, a businessman, He said the amended proposal is a "threat to the people of Assam" [Abdul Gani/Al Jazeera]|
Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), a regional ally of the BJP, also opposes the government's movement to change the law of citizenship.
"India is a secular country and nothing that is based on religion, caste and creed should be appreciated, we have already raised the problem at the highest level and, if the need arises, we are ready to withdraw from the government," said Atul. , head of AGP. Bora told Al Jazeera.
The government movement has stoked tensions between indigenous communities and residents of the ASA-speaking state, who fear that the new law will help undocumented Bangladeshi immigrants who belong to the Hindu community to obtain citizenship.
This occurs months after an agency supervised by the Supreme Court published a draft of the list that eliminated some four million people of their citizenship.
To turn off
Shops and businesses remained closed in the city of Guwahati in response to "Assam Bandh," a 12-hour closure called by 46 different political and social organizations, including the influential Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, a farmer advocacy group.
At a press conference in Guwahati, Akhil Gogoi, an adviser to KMSS, accused the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of making "religious policy" about citizenship.
"We oppose the bill that is dangerous for the state, we will not allow that to happen, illegal citizens can not be differentiated in the lines of religion, all sections of the people of Assam have spontaneously supported the strike," he said. Gogoi
Although the government of Assam governed by the BJP issued orders for offices and schools to remain open, the roads had an empty appearance while commercial establishments were closed.
|Stores and businesses remained closed in the Guwahati capital in response to & # 39; Assam Bandh & # 39; [Abdul Gani/Al Jazeera]|
Tuesday's closure came before the winter session of the Indian parliament when the proposed "Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016" will be discussed.
Political and student groups in the state of Assam, which has a long history of turmoil against undocumented immigrants, have accused the BJP of helping the Hindus of Bangladesh settle in the state.
Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), a student body that also participated in Tuesday's closure, warned that their turmoil will continue if the planned law is not overturned.
"The BJP has not kept its promises and they are now conspiring to liquidate the Hindu people of Bangladesh here by amending the Citizenship Bill, which is very unfortunate," said Palash Changmai, general secretary of AJYCP.
The calls to the BJP, which govern both the center and the state, were not answered at the time of publication of the article.
According to a recent report in the Hindustan Times, only 100,000 people who were left out of the draft citizenship list have filed claims as part of the revaluation exercise that concludes on November 28.
The National Registry of Citizens (NRC), which has the task of identifying foreigners, However, it has not disclosed details of the excluded.
The government says the NRC will be used to identify and deport undocumented immigrants. But activists warn that hundreds of thousands of Muslims in Assam could be left stateless in the process.
It is believed that many of those left out of the list are minority Muslim Bengalis, who make up more than a third of the nearly 32 million inhabitants of Assam.
Opposition parties say the Modi government appears to be denying citizenship to Muslims and, instead, is opening the way for Hindu immigrants as part of their pro-Hindu agenda.
"Unable to grant citizenship based on religion, it is unconstitutional, both Hindus and Bengali Muslims have suffered in this hatred against foreigners" Aman Wadud, a human rights lawyer in Guwahati, told Al Jazeera.
"But the BJP is trying to expel the Muslim citizens of India in the name of religion and is preparing to grant citizenship to the Hindus who came to India," he said.
To get to the citizenship list, residents in Assam must present documents proving that they or their family lived in the country before March 24, 1971, the year in which Bangladesh separated from Pakistan.
"A large number of Bengali-speaking Hindus have not made it to the list of citizens, which is why the BJP is trying to open the doors to Bengali Hindus through this amended law." Proof of citizenship is only for Muslims ? " Wadud asked.
Conflict of decades
Assam has been shaken by protests over undocumented immigration from Bangladesh, and Bengali-speaking Muslims are the most affected by the xenophobic attacks.
In February 1983, more than 2,000 Bengali Muslims were killed in Nellie, in the center of Assam. In recent years, hundreds of Bengali-speaking Muslims have been thrown into detention camps in the border state.
Critics say the right-wing right-wing party, BJP, is trying to turn an issue of undocumented immigrants into a Hindu issue against Muslims.
Speaking at public meetings in the western state of Rajasthan last month, BJP party chief Amit Shah described the alleged Bangladeshi migrants as "termites."
Prime Minister Modi came to power in Assam two years ago with the promise to act against undocumented immigrants.
On Tuesday, Binod Doley, a businessman who traveled about 400 kilometers from Charaideo to attend a protest rally in Guwahati, said the amended citizenship bill is a "threat to the people of Assam."
"We are worried about the future, after coming to power, the BJP showed a different color and now we are in danger, we will not let the BJP play politics with religion," Doley told Al Jazeera.