New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi Monday assured three delegations of the civil society, students, farmers and activists from the Northeast that his party will oppose the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, claimed leaders of the organisations.
The delegations of North East Students' Organisation (NESO), Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill (FACAA), led by renowned academician Hiren Gohain, and 70 organisations of Assam, including Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), met Gandhi and sought his cooperation to stall the bill in the Upper House, where the legislation is pending.
"We have apprised the Congress president about the people's apprehension about the bill and how it can hurt the indigenous people of the Northeast, its languages and culture. He assured us that the Congress party will oppose the bill in Rajya Sabha," NESO advisor Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharjya told .
The delegation of FACAA, led by Gohain, also met Gandhi separately where they told him that the bill will violate the basic tenets of the Constitution and the secular foundation of citizenship in the country as it provides for citizenship to all Hindus who come from the neighbouring country.
"The Congress president told us that the party will oppose the bill and will not allow to destroy the language and culture of the Northeast," convenor of FACAA Manjit Mahanta told .
The third delegation, comprising 70 organisations of Assam, met Gandhi and sought his intervention in "scuttling" the NDA government's "agenda" to impose the bill on the people of the Northeast.
Gandhi gave the assurance that he would do the needful to ensure that the bill does not get the approval of the Rajya Sabha, a member of the delegation said.
The bill provides for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document.
The legislation was passed by the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session on January 8 and has been awaiting Rajya Sabha nod.
There has been strong opposition in Assam and other Northeastern states against the bill.
Political parties have been protesting on the grounds that the bill seeks to grant nationality to non-Muslims who have come up to December 31, 2014, thereby, increasing the deadline from 1971 as per the Assam Accord.
Also, according to the Assam Accord, all illegal immigrants who have come after 1971, irrespective of their religion, have to be deported and this bill violates that.
Addressing the joint sitting of Parliament, President Ram Nath Kovind Thursday said the bill will give justice to persecuted minorities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan through Indian nationality.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also announced that the bill is an "atonement of the wrong that was done during India's Partition. India will safeguard all who had been victims of the Partition".