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Assam Speaker hopes govt will respect people's views on Citizenship Bill

Assam Speaker hopes govt will respect peoples views on Citizenship Bill

Guwahati: Assam Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami on Wednesday said that as a citizen, he hoped the government will respect the views of the people on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Goswami, a BJP MLA, said he has to respect government institutions since he holds a Constitutional post, but the events surrounding the protests against the bill have touched him as a person.

"Though I have nothing to say as a Speaker in the matter of amendments to bills, still as a citizen, I hope the government will respect the views of different sections of the society in the matter", he said in a statement.

Protests erupted across Assam and a statewide "bandh" was called by a large number of organisations as the Lok Sabha passed the bill Tuesday.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to grant Indian nationality to people from minority communities -- Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians -- from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 even if they don't possess any proper document.

"As a citizen with a neutral views, my conscience does not allow me to support what affects Assamese unity and is not acceptable to the indigenous Assamese people," the speaker, a BJP MLA from Jorhat, said. Goswami, a former leader of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), joined the BJP before the 2016 Assembly election. The AGP had pulled out of the BJP-led coalition government in the state a day before the bill was passed in the Lower House.

He also expressed hope that the state and the central governments would rethink and scrutinise the matter and take appropriate steps to calm the unrest following passage of the bill for the greater cause of the Assamese community. "I sincerely hope that the central and state governments will dispel the fears and doubts of the indigenous people by taking urgent measures based on the widely accepted Assam Accord in regard to safeguarding their interests", the speaker added.

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