All Assam Student Union take part in a human chain in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Tezpur, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Assam party sounds U.N. on validity of CAA

Petition was in view of the “grave danger” from CAA “to the identity and existence of the indigenous people” of Northeast, say its office-bearers


A newly-formed political party in Assam has petitioned the United Nations for evaluating the compliance of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) to the international human right instruments and its validity under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The Asom Songrami Mancha had on February 5 sent formal letters separately to the High Commissioner of the Geneva-based UN High Commission for Human Rights (UNHCR), its Chief of Mission in India and the Chairperson of the Indigenous Peoples and Development Branch of the UN’s Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (SPFII).

Mancha president Diganta Konwar, its working president Adip Kumar Phukan and three others said their petition was in view of the “grave danger” from the recently promulgated the CAA “to the identity and existence of the indigenous people” of Northeast India, specifically Assam.

They sought the intervention of the SPFII for considering the validity of the CAA under the spirit of Universal Declaration of Human Rights and for issuing refugee certificate to all eligible religiously-persecuted persons without any discrimination under the supervision of the UNHCR.

The Mancha asked the UNHCR and SPFII to ensure that the language, culture, demographics and economic well-being of the indigenous population of Assam are protected as per the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The Mancha reminded the U.N. that India voted to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and was a signatory to a number of U.N. and world conventions on human rights, refugee issues and related matters although the country did not sign the 1951 Convention on Refugees and the 1967 Protocol.

“The CAA legitimises discrimination on the basis of religion and stands in clear violation of the Constitution of India and international human rights laws. The Act, while inclusive in its stated objective, is exclusionary in its structure and intent,” the Mancha’s petition said.

‘Debilitating scenarios’

It also outlined two “debilitating scenarios” because of the CAA. One, it might have a devastating impact on the Northeast, totally destabilising its socio-economic balance and ethnic identity besides burdening Assam with “illegal migrants”. Two, anti-Hindu sentiments might increase in the neighbouring Islamic countries of India, making life for affluent Hindus there harder.

The CAA fast-tracks the citizenship process for six non-Muslim communities who allegedly fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and took refuge in India till December 31, 2014.