January 8, 2019
Excerpts from Saugata Roy’s speech on The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019
Madam, I rise to oppose this Bill, tooth and nail. This Bill should be sent off down hook line and sinker. This is a divisive Bill. Assam is burning. It seems the Home Minister, sitting in Delhi, does not know that if the Bill is passed, the flames of Assam will spread to other North-Eastern States. Tripura will burn and even Bengal will be disturbed.
Madam, I was part of the Select Committee. In every meeting we demanded that this Bill be withdrawn. This Bill is divisive. In the end, we gave some amendments, which was defeated in the Select Committee during voting. The Select Committee did not try to evolve any consensus. This Bill will divide the country.
Madam, this Bill has two parts. It mentions refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh . It mentions six religious communities – Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Parsees, Sikhs and Christians. We have no objection if you consider refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is religious persecution in those places and the numbers who have come to India are quite small. So, if you pass this Bill in favour of refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan, I have no objection. This Bill has another clause regarding ‘Overseas Citizens of India’ card holders. It restricts the OCI card holders if they have committed any crime or violated the rules; I have no objection to that also.
Now what Rajnath Singh ji, what the BJP is saying, what they are doing is that they are taking away with one hand and trying to give with the other hand. What have they taken away? There is a National Register of Citizens against which I have spoken in this House. The National Register of Citizens omits the names of 40 lakh 70 thousand people who are residing in Assam today. And Madam, you will be surprised to know, that of these 40 lakh 70 thousand people, 28 lakhs are Hindus, 10 lakhs are Muslims and two lakhs are Hindi speaking Hindu people and Urdu speaking Muslim people from other States. So who are being affected the most due to National Register of Citizens? Bengali Hindus are being affected very seriously.
That day, on my discussion on Rafale, I spoke about Meghnad in the BJP ranks, who shoots his arrows from behind the clouds. Here also, when this Bill is coming to Parliament, there is no sight of the Prime Minister. But, he is going to Silchar and saying that we will give all Hindus citizenship rights. Just look at the politics. He is not facing the House and he is going to Silchar which is a Bengali majority town in Cachar valley of Assam, is addressing meeting there. This is nothing to make difference. And in one hand, through National Register of Citizens, you are taking out people from the citizenship of India . Woh boltey hoy na, do hath mein laddu, ek hath mein laddu letey hain Modi ji, aur ek hath mein laddu detey hain. Ao ao Hinduo, tumko hum citizenship denge. This is most diabolical. Shaitani hai, politics ka, logon ko bibhajan karke siyasati fayeda uthaney ka.
Maine ye desh mein 1970-71 saal mein bhi itna diabolical division kabhi nahin dekha. Yeh koshish maine pehle kabhi nahin dekha jo yeh Citizenship Amendment Bill ke tahet kiya ja raha hain. Madam, to isiliye I still insist, one, to withdraw the Bill altogether. If you can not do that recommend it to the same Select Committee. The committee visited some places. We visited only Guwahati, Silchar and Shillong. But, we have not gone to upper Assam, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Jorhat, where large number of Bengali immigrants are staying. We had not gone to Tripura, where large number of Bengalis are staying. So, this is incomplete.
We are minority in the Committee. 11-6 they defeated us. It will naturally be defeated. JPCs are constituted on the basis of proportional representation. BJP has 1000 members and that is why they got more members. So, naturally we could not match in the number. We thought that we will match in logic The other important part I want to bring it to the Rajnath Singh ji’s notice. You are saying that those Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists who are coming earlier for residency, that is, to stay in this country for 11 years, after that, they could apply.
Now, if you are sympathetic to Bengali Hindus and you are trying to cater to the Bengali Vote, to kyun aap yeh six years rakhte hain? Boliye ki jo log yahan hain, wo log ko voting right milega. Leave these six years period altogether. Give them immediate citizenship and many of them are already citizens. Why you are discriminating against them that again they have to apply and why this should happen?
Madam, please try and understand. This is a sensitive issue and now what has happened? Madam, Bengali Hindus who have come from Bangladesh, they are proving to be the victim. Why? After this Bill was introduced, the militant outfits in Assam are up in arms against whom? Bengali Hindus. You know what happened? At Tinsukia, near Dibrugarh, ULFA (I) shot dead five innocent Bengalis who were drinking tea at a tea stall. What was the reason? They said openly, you want to get citizenship through the Bill? We shall give you citizenship of the other world. And they killed them.
Bengalis died and your government had not been able to protect the Bengalis. They have not been able to protect Bengalis. Madam, in the past, there has been Bangal Kheda in Assam. We are victims. If there is Bangal Kheda in Assam, they all come to the West Bengal. We can not take the load. Now see because of the governments, on the one hand, they are satisfying the Assamese majority, yes we have got the NRC for you. Now, all illegal Bangladeshi immigrants will be eliminated. On the other hand, they are trying to please the Hindu Bengalis because West Bengal will go to vote and they are saying see how we are.
You would be surprised to know that 28 lakh names of Bengali Hindus have been omitted from the list of citizenship, including a large number of Matuas. Madam, please understand the anxiety and anguish of us, the Bengali Hindus. One, you are creating divisions. Muslims have not been included. You have included six million. How can you, under Article 14, formulate a law in which equality before the law is not there? You are including Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians, Parsis and Jains. Why not Muslims? We say for anyone who comes out for religious persecution. In Pakistan, there are the Ahmadis who are also tortured by the majority there. They may also seek asylum in India. Will India not offer asylum to people who are Muslims but are still persecuted in Pakistan?
Madam, I make an appeal to you. You are a lady above the level of run-of-the-mill politics. That is why I want you to intervene. It is said that the Speaker should not speak. But sometimes the Speaker should speak out your mind, when there is threat to the unity and integrity of the country, when the Constitution is being threatened, when Article 14 is being violated by an unconstitutional law, when Bengali Hindus are being targeted, when Bengali Muslims are being eliminated and when West Bengal led by Mamata Banerjee is being made to suffer. Whenever ‘Bangal Kheda’ takes place in Assam, where do the people come in? they come in to Cooch Behar district of Bengal, in to Alipurduar district of Bengal and we have perforce to give them asylum, provide them food and shelter.
Having been a member of this committee for two years, let me tell you something, a strange thing. Rajendra Agarwal ji from Meerut is here, a nice man, allowed us to speak in the committee meetings. But he had no say. For two years, the committee did nothing. It was formed in 2016. Suddenly before the election they thought that we must bring this Bill to bring the Bengali Hindu vote in West Bengal. That’s why the hurry. That’s why, on the last day, this important Citizenship Bill – that will affect the ethnic minorities in various parts of the country like West Bengal, Assam and Tripura, that has the potentiality of lighting fires, violence and divisiveness in large parts of the country – is being brought forth. This is the worst example of vote-bank politics.
We stand for the rights of the Bengali Hindus and the Bengali Muslims. We demand that not one genuine citizen should be left out. We want the protection of all those who are genuine citizens. We seek your protection, Madam, and especially of the Matuas, the most deprived community, who are being enticed by the BJP. Someone from the party is going to Bengal and saying, ‘Hum Matua-log ko pura rights denge.’ Arre, Matua-log Mamata Banerjee ke saath hain. Woh log yeh sab karne se nahin jayega. Matua-log scheduled caste ke hain, Matua log Harichand Guruchad ko mante hain. Hum log bhi Matua-log ke saath hain.
With these words, with all the force at my command in these advanced years, I oppose this Bill. I want its withdrawal, or its re-commitment to a full-fledged Joint Parliamentary Committee. With these words, and with your permission, Madam, we shall walk out of this House by opposing this insidious, divisive Bill.