Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma Credit: Twitter

Guwahati: Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that the state government is ready to drop the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 if the anti-talk United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) leader Paresh Baruah returns to the mainstream.

Rubbishing claims that the banned rebel outfit was using the public sentiment against the bill to recruit several youth, Sarma said: “I want to ask Paresh Baruah will he and other youths will join the mainstream if the proposed bill is scrapped.” He was speaking to reporters in Guwahati on Sunday.

ULFA-I chief Baruah later replied to Sarma’s ‘offer’ by saying: “Let Union government start talks on sovereignty of Assam and we are ready to talk.”

“We will project Himanta Biswa Sarma as the prime minister of sovereign Assam,” Baruah was quoted as saying by a local news channel of Assam.

In Assam, several organisations including the ruling BJP’s ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) are opposing the bill. The minister said that AGP has no moral right to oppose the bill. They accepted March 24, 1971 as cut-off date instead of 1951 and Assam had to shoulder extra burden of foreigners.”

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