Assam's Interests To Be Protected In Citizenship Law: Sarbananda Sonowal

Violent protests had broken out in several parts of the country after the law was passed in parliament last month.

Every citizenship application will be scrutinized, Sarbanand Sonowal said (File)

Guwahati:

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday reiterated that the state's interests will be kept in mind when the rules of the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) are framed. He assured that constitutional safeguards will be provided to the indigenous people of the north-eastern state.

"No one needs to be uncertain about CAA, since it's a national act; and in this law we are trying to see that the interests of Assam remains protected. That's why when being asked we have already sent our suggestion and advice to the centre on the rules that would be framed," Mr Sonowal told reporters in Guwahati on Wednesday, when he met them in a rare interaction.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act makes religion the test of citizenship for the first time. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated neighbouring nations - Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan - to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution.

Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.

Violent protests had broken out in several parts of the country after the law was passed in parliament last month.

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"On what ground would we give validity to foreigners here. After we took charge we gave importance to the Assam accord implementation department. We gave awards, financial assistance and memorials for the martyrs of the Assam agitation. We have planned how to safeguard the rights of the people of Assam. We are sure we will give constitutional safeguards to the people of Assam. Even in CAA, we have sent our suggestions to centre on CAA. No new Bangladeshi would be allowed to come - the rule is clear. It only gives citizenship to refugees who have been there for decades. And every application will be scrutinized," Mr Sonowal added.

Protests in Assam, meanwhile, have continued despite assurances from Mr Sonowal.

Many among Assam's indigenous population want immigration blocked saying they have been reduced to a minority in the state.

"One fact is clear that people of Assam no longer are with CM Sonowal. What he is saying is not correct. He has the support of Bangladeshis, whom he wants to give Indian citizenship," Palash Changmai, President of Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parisad, said.