The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is an attempt to divide Indian society, says veteran Congress leader Jairam Ramesh Credit: File image

Shillong: With Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi constituting a group of leaders from Northeast and state in-charges of the region over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), the team sat down to discuss about the contentious issues in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, on Monday.

“The party is firmly, strongly, clearly opposed to the CAB. The bill is an attempt to divide Indian society and it violates Articles 14 and 21 of the Indian constitution. It is anti-secular, it goes against the Preamble of the Constitution, and it is anti-constitutional,” said Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member Jairam Ramesh.

Ramesh is leading a Congress delegation to four Northeastern states — Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura — to gather opinion of people and party leaders on the CAB and NRC. They will submit their report to Sonia Gandhi.

Lashing out at the BJP, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said that the party is opposed to the methodology of NRC and also to the principle of CAB. He also said that the NRC and CAB are instruments of the BJP-RSS to divide and polarise Indian society.

Highlighting its stand, the Congress party said that it firmly opposes illegal immigrants and immigration. Ramesh added, “Migration must be stopped at the border. NRC is a very complicated exercise, the type of paperwork and documentation that is required poor people do not have. Poor people move for jobs. It requires public education it requires public awareness it requires public health so while NRC in Assam has a history to repeat the NRC in the other states requires a lot of homework. We have to ensure that the NRC does not become an instrument for harassment. People should not live in fear and intimidation because of NRC. A lot of homework and planning is required, political consensus is required before we jump into NRC outside Assam.”

Announcing that the NRC is also an instrument of the BJP-RSS to divide and polarise Indian society, Jairam Ramesh said that the Congress party is prepared to be part of a national dialogue that will plan for a harassment-free NRC. It won’t happen overnight, it will take years but yes we must not allow India to become a haven for illegal migration, he added.

“We know NRC is being used by Amit Shah to divide and polarise Indian society and NRC and CAB is being used by Modi and Shah to divert people’s attention from farmer issues, traders’ issues, small scale business issues, economic crisis. There is a famine of jobs and now Modi and Shah talk only about NRC and CAB,” the senior Congress leader said.

The party also questioned the Meghalaya government for the need to amend the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act (MRSSA) that was passed through an ordinance. The party opined that all these years the government never cared to implement it and that the present Meghalaya government has slept over this Act.

“They never bothered to implement this Act and suddenly now they feel the need to amend this Act. They should make public the amendment and have a public debate; they should engage all political parties and civil society. We want the MRSSA to be implemented and strengthened. We believe that this Act protects all communities of Meghalaya,” said Jairam Ramesh.

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