Former Assam chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta will no longer have the protection of the elite commandos of the National Security Guards (NSG), officials said. He has been downgraded to a security detail comprising commandos of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). Mr Mahanta, a senior leader of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and an MLA, who has been protesting against the amended citizenship law, will still get a bulletproof vehicle.
"I don't want security from the government of India or government of Assam as I believe in the people of Assam," Mr Mahanta said. "India is moving in the same pattern as that of Hitler's Nazi Germany. Unless we are careful, it will be very dangerous for us," he told reporters in Guwahati today.
Mr Mahanta said he was informed about the withdrawal of his NSG security cover on Saturday. "I would have believed their theory of no threat perception to me had this been withdrawn during some other time. They have been seeing me voicing against the Act for a long time and I think that is why it was withdrawn," he said.
He alleged the centre withdrew NSG cover after he opposed the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. Mr Mahanta was given NSG cover after an assassination attempt on him by insurgent group ULFA in 1997.
The former chief minister was placed at the helm of the AGP after the signing of the Assam Accord in 1985 and was chief minister for two terms from 1985 to 1990 and between 1996 and 2001.
"The Citizenship (Amendment) Act is not constitutional," he said, adding he will continue to oppose the amended law on every platform despite his party supporting it in the Rajya Sabha and still being part of the BJP-led alliance in the state and at the centre.
"I have been speaking alone in party meetings and among the public despite the current AGP leadership betraying the people only for their greed for power. The BJP government has been luring, giving mental pressure and issuing threats to me to change my stand, but I will not," he said.
Assam and other states in the north-east have seen large-scale protests over the amended citizenship law. The protesters say refugee-turned-citizens will overrun the region and the indigenous people could lose political representation in the long run.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has assured that the interests of the north-east will not be harmed by the amended citizenship law.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act for the first time makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India before 2015 because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.