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Citizenship Bill will cause no harm to Assam and Northeast, assures Modi

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Guwahati, Feb 9 (IANS) Reaffirming the BJP-led NDA government’s intention to pass the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the government will ensure that the Bill does not cause any harm to Assam and other parts of the Northeast.

The Prime Minister was addressing a public rally at Changsari near Guwahati while inaugurating several development projects amid protests by various organisations across the region which showed him black flags on Friday.

"The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 is not for Assam or northeastern states. It is for the whole country. The Bill is a national commitment considering the plight of the persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The passage of the Bill will ensure that those who were left out during the Partition and who still love India more than their lives are accommodated in the country. It is the responsibility of India to accept those people," he said.

"I am here to assure you that the Bill will not harm Assam or any other state in the region. The Bill will only allow those persecuted minorities to apply for citizenship. There is no question of granting citizenship without verification," Modi said.

The Prime Minister said the government is committed to ensuring that there are no illegal foreigners in Assam and the country.

"Our government has started work for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) under the supervision of the Supreme Court, which the previous government was not doing. Our government is also working at a faster pace to seal the India-Bangladesh border," Modi said.

The Prime Minister attacked the Congress by holding the opposition party responsible for the delay in conferring Bharat Ratna to the late Bhupen Hazarika and Gopinath Bordoloi.

"Although music maestro Bhupen Hazarika and Gopinath Bordoloi were worthy of Bharat Ratna, the conferring of the honour to them was delayed for decades by the previous governments. It is the BJP government during whose tenure Bharat Ratna was conferred to both the worthy sons of Assam," he said.

"I want to ask them why the real jewels had to wait for decades to be recognised as Bharat Ratna, while for some the honour was fixed immediately after their birth," said the Prime Minister, adding that the previous governments in Assam also failed to implement the Assam Accord for over 30 years.

"Our government has already instituted a committee to implement the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and I firmly believe that the committee will be able to fulfill all the aspirations of the people of the state," he said.