“Please Return Our Votes”: Assamese Singer Protests Citizenship Bill

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Zubeen Garg had posted an emotional letter addressed to Sarbananda Sonowal on social media.

New Delhi:

Five days after Assamese singer Zubeen Garg wrote to Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, he demanded that the votes the BJP got using an election song sung by him in 2016 be "returned".

In a Facebook post, Mr Garg also offered to return the remuneration received for the song. The singer has over 8.58 lakh followers on Facebook and the post has gone viral.

"Dear Sarbananda Sonowal Da, wrote a letter to you few days back. Guess you are too busy counting the black flags to respond," the singer wrote, referring to the ongoing protests across the state where black flags were waved.

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"So, can I get the votes back that you earned using my voice in 2016? I am ready to refund the remuneration," he added.

On January 8, Mr Garg had threatened to protest if the chief minister failed to take steps to scrap the controversial Bill within seven days. The singer had posted an emotional letter addressed to Mr Sonowal on social media along with his photograph holding the letter.

"Even if the Citizenship Bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha, Sarbada (Sarbananda Sonowal) can say no to it. Speak and see, rest will be seen later. I am still keeping my cool. I won't be in Assam for one week. It will be good if Sarbada takes some action before my return. Otherwise this time, I will agitate on my own. What I will do, I don't know," he said.

Another singer from the state, Angarag Mahanta (Papon), opposed the Bill saying it hurts the "Assamese sentiments".

Meanwhile, protests continued across the state on Sunday and over hundred agitators were picked up when they blocked the road to Kaziranga University, where Mr Sonowal had gone for the convocation.

The protesters from Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) shouted slogans and waved black flags.

Members of Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) shaved their heads in Jamugurihat demanding immediate withdrawal of the Bill. In Karbi Anglong district, hundreds of students blocked the National Highway-36 for hours, while Jogi and Kalita communities burnt copies of the Bill on NH-37 in Dudhnoi in Goalpara.

Criticising the BJP-led government at Centre and state, the Left Democratic Manch vowed to continue the agitation till the Bill is scrapped.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to grant Indian citizenship to the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan and entered India before December 31, 2014, after six years of residence in the country, instead of the current 12 years, even if they do not have any proper documents.

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