Bengali Hindus in Assam asked to lie for citizenship, claims Gogoi-3

[ Trideep Lahkar ]
MAJULI, 13 Apr: Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi has accused the BJP-led government of pushing Assam’s bonafide Bengali Hindus to lie about their origins for obtaining citizenship under the CAA and warned that this “divide and rule” policy would create “a Manipur-like situation in the state.”
In an interview with PTI, the deputy leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha slammed the Centre over the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, and claimed that it is forcing the people, who were excluded from the NRC, to “commit perjury” to get Indian citizenship.
He claimed that the CAA is mainly aimed to benefit those Assam-born Bengali Hindus, who for some reason did not feature in the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
“Now, these Assam-born Bengali-speaking citizens are being told by the government that the remedy is to say that they are refugees from Bangladesh. It’s a matter of shame and it hurts their dignity,” Gogoi said.
He alleged that the government gave false, misleading promises to Bengali-speaking people and is now creating a rift, at least in Assam, between Bengali and Assamese-speaking people.
“It just reminds us of how they created two Manipurs and how something similar might play out because of such divide-and-rule politics,” Gogoi warned.
The final NRC was released on 31 August, 2019, and excluded over 19 lakh people.
“I think the government is essentially forcing these people to lie about their origins and heritage, which would create a sense of discord between them and their neighbours.
“Their (Bengali-speaking Hindus) reputation in the society is shredded by the BJP government. I think it is quite unfortunate. We wanted a genuine and error-free NRC. All excluded Bengali-speaking people who are genuine Indian citizens should have been included in the NRC,” Gogoi said.
If people’s names have featured in the NRC illegally, they should be identified and legal steps should be initiated, he added.
After the publication of the final NRC, the authorities were supposed to issue the ‘rejection slip’, mentioning the reasons for excluding a person’s name, but it is yet to be issued.
Gogoi also accused the BJP-led NDA government of stifling democratic protests and likening India’s trajectory to that of authoritarian states like China and Russia.
He alleged that student organisations and political parties who wish to protest against the implementation of the CAA in a peaceful democratic manner are not being allowed.
“They are being threatened with jail with top police officials sending letters, intimidating leaders of student and political organisations. They are being prevented from their basic right to protest in a peaceful and non-violent manner,” he added.
Gogoi asserted that dissent is an essential feature of democracy, but the government is trying to crush all forms of democratic protest by use of “brute” police force.
“The threat of police action has silenced all forms of opposition, including the media. This shows the BJP government under PM Modi is crushing modern Indian democracy and wants to turn India into a Chinese-style authoritarian government or a Russian-style democracy,” he claimed.
The Congress-led opposition is trying to preserve democracy, which is renowned the world over for keeping 140 crore people united as well as empowered, through this general election, the Lok Sabha member said.
“Our message is simple – once INDIA comes to power, we will repeal the CAA because it is unconstitutional and violates the spirit of the Assam Accord,” he added.
On the BJP’s claim of NDA getting over 400 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, Gogoi said that it is a “misleading claim,” just to motivate their cadres.
“BJP had also claimed that it would deposit Rs 15 lakhs in every account. We know what they do. They also talked of building so many smart cities, giving two crore jobs, creating skilled employees and reducing inflation. We are used to BJP just misleading the people with lofty statements,” he added.
Asked why the opposition alliance failed in Assam, the Congress leader claimed, “Broadly the alliance worked very well. From state to state, we have different pictures. In Kerala, we are against CPM but we are together in Bengal.
“In Delhi, AAP and Congress are fighting together but in Punjab, we are fighting separately. The political reality is different in every state. Voters are wise and mature, they understand what’s happening.”
On several of his close aides joining the BJP in the last few weeks, Gogoi tried to play down the situation and said that he joined politics to serve the people of Assam. (PTI)