'If the Citizenship Bill passes, then the very principle of Indian citizenship, which is called jus soli (right of birthplace) will convert to principle of jus sanguinis (right of blood) on the basis of religion.'
'Citizenship is being given on the basis of religion and it is against the Constitution.'
RTI activist and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi, along with litterateur Hiren Gohain and journalist Manjit Mahanta, was charged with sedition for opposing the Citizenship Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha last week. The bill allows the granting of citizenship to Hindu refugees from neighbouring countries.
The Assam police filed a sedition case against the three for comments made by them during a meeting on January 7 to protest against the Citizenship Bill. They have since been granted bail by the Guwahati high court.
An unfazed Gogoi says he opposes the bill as he feels it is communal in nature and goes against the Assam Accord and the Constitution.
He also warns that it will lead to Hindu refugees from Bangladesh flowing into Assam once the bill is passed by the Rajya Sabha and becomes law.
"I was earlier booked under the NSA (National Security Act for four months, but the high court quashed the case. Now they are charging me with sedition. I don't care," Gogoi, below, tells Rediff.com's Syed Firdaus Ashraf.
You observed a hunger strike to oppose the Citizenship Bill.
Today (Monday, January 14) is our Magh Bihu and all Assamese celebrate this day, but we are not happy because the Government of India has passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 in the Lok Sabha.
This bill is unconstitutional, illegal and immoral.
If this bill passes (in the Rajya Sabha), then the very principle of Indian citizenship, which is called jus soli (right of birthplace) will convert to principle of jus sanguinis (right of blood) on the basis of religion.
Citizenship is being given on the basis of religion and it is against the Indian Constitution.
Where will these Hindus go if they are persecuted in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan but India?
Bangladeshi Hindus are not our responsibility.
We may take refugees, shelter them and feed them for a period of time, but how can we give them our places?
This is not good. The Government of India must discuss this issue with the government of Bangladesh and tell them not to harass the minority population in their country.
We cannot take on the burden of all refugee people. We can give shelter them for a period, but we cannot give them citizenship as it is unconstitutional.
Is there social tension prevailing in Assam because of Bengali Hindus?
From 1915, the Assamese people are fighting against infiltration. The politics of ;Assam depends on illegal migrants.
The Assam movement, from 1979 to 1985, was against this illegal migrant and after this we got the Assam Accord.
This was the understanding between the Government of India and the government of Assam and the All Assam Students Union.
According to the Assam Accord, nobody can enter Assam after March 24, 1971. This is the cutoff year.
On the basis of the Assam Accord, the Citizenship Act 1955 has been changed.
The 6A special provision for Assam was entered and nobody can change this clause.
On the basis of 6A clause, the National Register of Citizens of India is being updated now under the supervision of the Supreme Court of India.
Now, if the Citizenship Act Bill is passed, then there are three opposition points:
a. It is an unconstitutional and immoral bill. It is against the Preamble of the Indian Constitution. It is against Articles 14, 15, 245, 26, 27 and 28.
b. This bill will violate the Assam Accord which was a national promise, and
c. The NRC is going on on the basis of 6A and if this bill is passed, then at least 190 million Hindus will come to Assam from Bangladesh.
At present, 28 lakh (2.8 million) Hindu people are residing illegally in Assam according to the NRC. If you see Bangladesh's population it has a 10 percent population of Hindus.
If this bill is passed, then a floodgate of Hindus will open to Assam from Bangladesh.
But the Citizenship Bill mentions a cut off date of December 31, 2014, and no new person can enter India after that.
You must see the picture this way. On September 7, 2015, the notification on Passport (entry to India) Rules was issued. This notification was changed for Hindus of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan by either bureaucrats or the Modi government.
This cutoff date is only in the notification, and not in the Citizenship Bill.
Are you saying December 31, 2014 is not the cutoff date for the Citizenship Bill?
There is no mention of this in the bill.
This change happened only in the notification, and if a legislative change happens, then in one day they can change this notification of the cutoff date immediately.
Don't you think it is inhuman to send 28 lakh Bangladeshi Hindus back to Bangladesh?
If this bill passes, then the floodgate of illegal migration will open up.
There are 170 million Hindus in Bangladesh and they can enter Assam.
But this is your fear, it may not happen.
If you come to Assam, you will also feel this fear.
The demographics of Assam has changed because of illegal migration, and all politics of Assam is dependent on illegal immigration.
Now tomorrow, if 20 lakh Bangladeshi Hindus land in Mumbai, will anyone accept them? These people are from Bangladesh and they have come illegally to Assam.
What do you make of the statement by BJP leader Himanta Biswas Sharma that Jinnah will become the chief minister of Assam if the Citizenship Bill is not passed?
No honest and good people care for his words. Only the outsiders of Assam take him seriously.
But he won the elections for the BJP.
That was a political wave and therefore he won. Now he cannot win in 2019.
You will see nobody from the BJP will win in Assam and north east India.
Only in those constituencies where illegal Bangladeshi people are residing can they win.
Himanta Biswas Sharma also said the Citizenship Bill is a fight between Jinnah's legacy and India's legacy.
That is a communal statement. You must know that Jinnah and the RSS Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) people are the same. They are communal.
Every Indian who is secular is against Jinnah and also against the RSS.
It is also said that Badruddin Ajmal's party, the All India United Democratic Front, wins elections in Assam because of illegal Bangladeshi Muslims and therefore the Citizenship Bill is important to keep a check on illegal Muslim refugees from Bangladesh.
We are against illegal Bangladeshi Muslims too.
We have been fighting against them since 1915, when Bangladesh was not even created.
From that time, all the Assamese people are fighting illegal Muslim migration.
Illegal Bangladeshi Muslim is a threat, but we cannot take illegal Hindu Bangladeshis in their lieu. We cannot take illegal Bangladeshi Hindu refugees in Assam.
You must be aware that the chief ministers of Mizoram, Manipur and Nagaland are also opposing this bill.
The chief minister of Meghalaya has threatened to quit the BJP alliance if the bill is passed.