Sarbananda Sonowal, the chief of India’s Assam and a prominent leader from the federally ruling BJP, has categorically told the party’s leadership that his state will not accept any foreigners (illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Pakistan) as per the contentious Citizenship Act in the interest of the native Assamese.
Sonowal belongs to the same BJP, headed by India’s Home Minister Amit Shah, and whose main face during every election is Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The statement comes on a day when the country’s Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad warned states that they have a constitutional duty to implement laws passed by the Indian Parliament.
“I’m a son of the soil. So long I’m the Chief Minister(State Chief) I won’t let foreigners to occupy my courtyard. How can I betray my people?” Sarbananda Sonowal, who has also served as a minister in Modi's Cabinet, stated in Guwahati during a press conference.
He also stated, without revealing the details, that his Assam government has conveyed to the central government its plan to safeguard the indigenous people of Assam.
“Many people of the state taunt me that I’ve surrendered myself to the BJP’s agenda. However, I’m conscious that I’m an Axomiya (Assamese). Despite joining a national political party, I haven’t given up this consciousness, and won’t give it up ever", the emotionally charged state chief Sonowal added.
Interestingly enough, Assam’s BJP unit led by Sonowal recorded an impressive victory in the state in 2016 on the promise of making the state free from illegal Bangladeshi migrants. Prime Minister Modi had also echoed the sentiment during election rallies in the state at that time.
Happy to spend this #NewYear afternoon with Sri @AmitShah whom I adore for his clear thoughts. Had a long discussion with him about identity issues of Assamese, aspirations of our tribals community and strengthening nationalist thought process in NE. Will hear some good news soon— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) January 1, 2020
However, out of eight northeastern states that vociferously opposed the citizenship law, four have been shielded through Inner Line Permit (ILP), a law enacted by the federal government to protect the indigenous people of the state and control the influx of illegal immigrants.
As per the law, any person not indigenous to the state or a permanent resident requires an official document to enter the said state.
Earlier, Kerala was the first of six Indian states to announce it would not implement the amended citizenship law (CAA), which has triggered widespread protests across the country. Rajasthan, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh are the others.
The Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) grants citizenship to persecuted Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, who entered India illegally before 1 January 2015.