Anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Bill protests | Two die of bullet injuries in Guwahati as police open fire on protesters

A securityman and a policeman take cover as they face protesters during curfew in Guwahati on December 12, 2019.

A securityman and a policeman take cover as they face protesters during curfew in Guwahati on December 12, 2019.   | Photo Credit: Ritu Raj Konwar

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Assam Governor, CM, DGP appeal for calm; ADGP tells people to stay indoors

People defied curfew in Guwahati on Thursday morning to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) as the situation remained tense throughout Assam, with the Army conducting flag march in the city.

Guwahati, the epicentre of anti-CAB protests, was placed under indefinite curfew on Wednesday night while the Army was called in at four places and Assam Rifles personnel were deployed in Tripura on Wednesday as the two northeastern States plunged into chaos over the hugely emotive Bill.

All Assam Student’s Union has called for a protest at 11 a.m. in Guwahati.

Protestors, amid tear-smoke throw stones as they clash with the police during their march against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in Guwahati, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.

Protestors, amid tear-smoke throw stones as they clash with the police during their march against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in Guwahati, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti appealed to the people to come out on the road for a peaceful protest. People were on the roads in the night despite curfew.

The Army conducted a flag march in the city on Thursday morning. Vehicles were stranded in various cities of Assam due to heavy blockade. Half-a dozen vehicles were burnt. The houses of the BJP and the AGP leaders were attacked in various parts of the State.

Here are the latest updates:

 

Jorhat district

Activist Akhil Gogoi arrested

RTI activist and peasant leader Akhil Gogoi has been arrested in Assam’s Jorhat district as a preventive measure, amid violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill across the State, officials said.

A senior official said Mr. Gogoi was taken into custody to avoid any “untoward incident” in the district. Mr. Gogoi, the adviser of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, had staged a sit-in outside the Jorhat Deputy Commissioner’s office.

Guwahati/Tezpur

Assam Handloom Minister’s house attacked, indefinite curfew imposed in Tezpur, Dhekiajuli

Assam Handloom Minister Ranjit Dutta’s house at Behali in Sonitpur was attacked by protesters opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill and indefinite curfew was imposed in Tezpur and Dhekiajuli towns of the district, officials said.

Crowds of protesters gathered before his house in large numbers and threw stones. However, the damage to the house was minimal as the police reached the spot on time and dispersed them, the officials said.

Sonitpur Deputy Commissioner Manvendra Pratap Singh said the curfew will be in force till further orders to avoid untoward incidents.

The Army carried out flag marches in Tezpur and other places of the district, he added.

Night curfew has been imposed in Jorhat, Golaghat, Tinsukia and Charaideo — PTI

Dibrugarh

Bus terminus set on fire in Assam’s Dibrugarh

A bus terminus of the Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) in Dibrugarh was set ablaze by protesters, officials said.

A large number of people reached the ASTC terminus at the Chowkidingi area of the city and vandalised the complex and set it on fire, they said.

Army and fire tenders were rushed and they doused the flames without much damage, a senior district official said.

Senior officials of the district administration, including an additional Deputy Commissioner, are at the spot and monitoring the situation. — PTI

Guwahati

Two die in Guwahati as police open fire on protesters

At least two persons died due to bullet injuries on December 12 after police opened fire on protesters in Assam’s Guwahati, officials said.

An official of the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital told PTI that one person was “brought dead” and another succumbed to injuries while undergoing treatment.

The official, however, could not give their names, saying that “they were brought unidentified”.

The State has been on edge as thousands of angry protesters came out on streets defying curfew, thumbing their nose at Army contingents staging flag marches, and clashing with police across cities. — PTI

 

Sonowal issues video appeal

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in a video appeal to the people of the state Thursday said that they need not worry about the Citizenship Amendment Bill as their traditional culture, language, political and land rights will be protected by implementing Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.

Mr. Sonowal said that some people are trying to spread misinformation to mislead people and aggravate the situation.

He said a committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of Justice (Retd.) Biplab Sarmah, who has been given the task to prepare recommendations for ensuring the constitutional safeguards of the people of Assam.

The Centre has categorically stated that the recommendations of Clause 6 Committee will be fully implemented within a time frame, the Chief Minister said.

“The Committee will complete its work and submit its recommendations to the centre soon and it will be implemented soon after it is submitted. I believe that the people of Assam will get full protection,” he said.

“I firmly believe that the sensible people of Assam will never believe in the misinformations as they are generally peace-loving people ... We condemn those who are spreading misinformation and disturbing the peace of the state,” he said.

He also appealed to all sections of the society to come forward and create an atmosphere of situation of peace and tranquility in which the students can study and excel in their academic fields.

 

 

Assam Governor, DGP appeal for calm

Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi has appealed to the people to maintain peace in the State.

In a statement, Mr. Mukhi urged them to maintain restraint as they have always shown patience and political maturity in the past.

“If the student community has any issues against the government they have every right to agitate but they should do it in a democratic and peaceful manner, without taking the law in their hands,” he said.

Mr. Mukhi said the approval of the bill by Parliament has shown that the Centre is committed to taking remedial steps, including implementation of the Clause VI of the Assam Accord to safeguard the culture, ethos, language, along with other rights of the indigenous people.

The Governor further appealed that no citizen should damage public property in the interest and development of the State.

Assam Director-General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta too made an appeal to people to not take law into their hands. He also urged to the electronic media not to show provocative visuals or reports.

He said that many “lumpen elements” and people with political connections are trying foment disturbances in the state, where the army has been called in three districts besides the State capital. “We do not have anything to say if the protests are democratic. But I am appealing to the people not to take the law into their hands to create disturbances,” Mr. Mahanta told PTI. “The attacks (by the protestors) that are taking place are not good and there will be problem if people take law and order into their hands,” he added.

Stones were thrown at Mr. Mahanta’s convoy when he was touring Guwahati. The carcade was on Guwahati-Shillong Road near Christian Basti when it was attacked. Stones were thrown at several vehicles in the convoy that was on its way from the secretariat.

ADGP issues warning

Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order) G.P. Singh said that the law must be adhered to and those who break the law will face action. As curfew is in force in Assam people must follow the law and stay indoors till it is lifted, he said.

Mr. Singh, who was serving as Inspector-General of police of the National Investigation Agency in New Delhi, was rushed to Guwahati to take charge as the ADGP (Law and Order) from Mukesh Agarwal.

All incidents are being videographed and those indulging in violence will be identified and action will be taken against them as per the law, Mr. Singh said, adding the future of the protesting students may be at stake. “The students are involving themselves in the protests emotionally but they must realise that there will be no gain from this. It will only jeopardise their future,” Mr. Singh said.

The ADGP urged the parents and guardians of the protesting students to explain to them the futility of their actions and the probable consequences.

 

Educational institutions closed; BJP, AGP, RSS offices attacked

Educational institutions in affected districts have been closed till December 22 as protests and clashes with the police continue across several Brahmaputra Valley districts.

The government also extended suspension of mobile internet and data services in affected districts to 48 hours since 7 p.m. yesterday.

Mobs attacked BJP, AGP and RSS offices in several places besides attacking the houses of MLAs belonging to the ruling coalition. BJP legislator Binod Hazarika's house in Dibrugarh district was partially set on fire and his Batadraba counterpart Angoorlata Deka's house in Morigaon district was damaged by stone-pelters.

 

Schools, colleges shut, vehicles off roads in Tripura

Schools and colleges were closed, offices were shut and vehicles remained largely off roads in Tripura on Thursday amid a 24-hour shutdown call given by the Congress, officials said.

Shops were also shut in several areas across the state and many trains were cancelled due to the shutdown, which was called by the Congress in protest against alleged police assault on its members during an agitation outside its party office here on Wednesday.

Congress workers were injured in a baton charge by Tipura State Rifles personnel when they took out a torch rally in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Although some government offices were open but attendance was thin, the officials said.

“Attendance at the civil secretariat was normal despite the bandh,” said a senior state government official.

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Guwahati police chief removed, several officers transferred amid CAB protests in Assam

In a major reshuffle, the Assam government on Thursday replaced the Guwahati Police commissioner and a senior officer responsible for law and order in the state, amid violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, officials said.

City police chief Deepak Kumar was removed and Munna Prasad Gupta was appointed in his place, Commissioner and Secretary (Home and Political) Ashutosh Agnihotri told PTI.

Mr. Gupta was earlier posted in the Special Protection Group.

Additional Director General of Police (law and order) Mukesh Agarwal was transferred as ADGP (CID) and GP Singh was given his charge.

Mr. Singh was earlier posted in New Delhi as inspector general of police at the National Investigation Agency.

ADGP (CID) LR Bishnoi has also been transferred as ADGP (training and armed police), the officials said.

ADGP SN Singh and deputy inspector general of police Anand Prakash Tiwari has also been brought in to supervise the law and order situation in the state, they said.

 

Suspension of internet services in 10 Assam districts extended

Suspension of internet services in ten districts of Assam was extended for 48 hours on Thursday, beginning 12 p.m., to prevent “misuse” of social media to disturb peace and tranquility, and to maintain law and order, officials said.

Internet services will remain suspended in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup, Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Political department) Sanjay Krishna told PTI.

Internet services were suspended at 7 p.m. on Wednesday amid massive protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Meanwhile, the Centre said the decision to snap internet services was taken by the Assam government based on a report by the Intelligence Bureau. It's the State government's call, said a senior government official.

 

Airlines cancel flights to Assam

Airlines on Thursday cancelled flights to various cities in Assam in the wake of unrest in the state.

IndiGo, Vistara, Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir are among the carriers that have cancelled their flights.

With respect to the ongoing unrest situation in Assam, a few Guwahati and Dibrugarh-bound flights have been cancelled on Thursday, an IndiGo spokesperson said in a statement.

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Amid curfew, passengers stranded at Guwahati airport

Hundreds of passengers remained stranded at the Guwahati airport on Thursday due to indefinite curfew and Internet clampdown in the city as Assam continued to remain on the boil over the Citizenship Bill.

From students to working professionals and old men to young women, people were seen squatting inside or outside of the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International airport at Borjhar area, about 30 km from the main city.

Security forces kept a tight vigil at the airport as Assam police personnel and commandos were deployed to guard the area. Services were closed at prepaid taxi counters inside the airport premises in lieu of the curfew, a staff on duty said.

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Police opens fire on protesters in Guwahati

Police opened fire to disperse protesters at Lalungaonn area in Guwahati on Thursday in which some persons were reportedly injured, a senior police officer said.

The officer claimed that the protesters hurled stones and bricks at the policemen and when attempts to pacify them did not deter the mob, the security personnel opened fire at them.

The officer did not specify the number of people injured in the firing, though the protesters claimed that at least four persons were injured.

Defying curfew, protesters came out on the streets of Guwahati on Thursday to protest the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that was passed in Parliament even as the Army conducted flag marches in Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Tinsukia.

Five columns of the Army have been requisitioned and deployed in Assam, an Army statement said.

Influential students’ body AASU and peasants organisation KMSS have asked the people to defy the curfew imposed in Guwahati since Wednesday evening and come out of their homes to protest against the Bill.

Protesters burnt effigy of senior Assam Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in Ambori area while students of the Cotton University and Handique Girls college were also seen protesting against the CAB.

One of the protesters said “It is a fight for our existence.”

 

Internet cut off, people in Assam can’t read your ‘reassuring’ message: Congress to PM

The Congress on Wednesday took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his assurance to the people of Assam on Twitter after the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament, saying the people in the state cannot read his “reassuring” message as the internet there has been cut-off.

In a series of tweets, in both Assamese and English, the prime minister said he personally and the Central government are “totally committed to constitutionally safeguard the political, linguistic, cultural and land rights of the Assamese people as per the spirit of Clause 6.”

“I want to assure my brothers and sisters of Assam that they have nothing to worry after the passing of #CAB,” Mr. Modi tweeted.

Taking a dig at the Prime Minister’s message, the Congress, from its official Twitter handle, said, “Our brothers and sisters in Assam cannot read your ‘reassuring’ message Modiji, in case you’ve forgotten, their internet has been cut off.”

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New Delhi

CAB to ensure Bangladeshi Hindu migrants in Assam get citizenship: CPI(M)

The CPI(M) on Thursday said the BJP has pushed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to extend its “communal agenda” of ensuring that Hindu migrants from Bangladesh living in Assam are given citizenship while seeking to exclude Muslim migrants from that country.

An editorial in the forthcoming edition of the CPI(M) mouthpiece Peoples Democracy said the BJP had to get CAB passed to ensure smooth running of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process.

“The motivation for the bill was its communal agenda of ensuring that Hindu migrants from Bangladesh living in Assam could be given citizenship while seeking to exclude any Muslim migrant from that country. This measure was necessitated because the National Register of Citizens (NRC) process in Assam would have excluded all those who entered the state after March 24, 1971,” the editorial said.

 

Will read Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, says Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister

The scheduled visit of Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister to India on Thursday is being watched, as it is the first visit from Dhaka after Union Home Minister Amit Shah cited the condition of the minority Hindu community in the neighbouring country as one of the reasons behind the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momin was one of the first leaders to respond after Mr. Shah referred to atrocities against Hindu women in Bangladesh during 2000 to 2003 while introducing the Bill in the Lok Sabha and repeated some of the arguments in the Rajya Sabha.

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Trains services suspended

Railways has suspended all passenger train services in Tripura and Assam and short-terminated long distance trains to the region to Guwahati following protests in the two states over the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament, a railway spokesperson told PTI on Thursday.

The decision was taken Thursday night in view of the security situation in the region, Northeast Frontier Railway spokesperson Subhanan Chanda said, adding many passengers are stranded in Kamakhya and Guwahati.

After a railway station in Dibrugarh’s Chabua, the hometown of the Assam chief minister, was set on fire by protestors late Thursday night and the Panitola railway station in Tinsukia district torched, 12 companies of the Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF) have been dispatched to the region, DG of RPF Arun Kumar told PTI.

 

CAB ‘completely unconstitutional’, headed towards SC: Manish Tewari

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is “completely unconstitutional” and is headed towards the Supreme Court, senior Congress leader Manish Tewari said on Thursday.

His remarks come a day after the contentious bill was passed by Rajya Sabha after it was cleared in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

Asked whether the Congress would challenge the Bill in the Supreme Court, Mr. Tewari told PTI, “It is completely unconstitutional and it is headed towards the court, so therefore, it is immaterial who challenges it.”

“It is definitely being challenged and I personally know of at least 10 different groups in the northeast who have approached our law offices to challenge the Bill. It is headed to the Supreme Court,” said Mr. Tewari, who is also a senior lawyer

 

Several flights from Kolkata to Northeast cancelled

Several private airlines have cancelled flights from Kolkata to Assam and other Northeastern states on Thursday in the wake of anti-CAB protests, officials said.

Not all but some private operators have cancelled their flights to Assam and other northeastern states since Thursday morning, a senior official of Kolkata airport said.

“We can’t just give the details of the flights as of now. But several flights have been cancelled,” the official said.

Guwahati, the epicentre of protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, was placed under indefinite curfew on Wednesday evening while the Army was called in at four places of the state.

Assam Rifles personnel were deployed in Tripura as the two northeastern states plunged into chaos over the CAB.

People defied curfew in Guwahati on Thursday morning to protest against the CAB as the situation remained tense throughout Assam, with the Army conducting flag march in the city.

 

ISL match in Guwahati postponed due to curfew

The Indian Super League (ISL) football match between NorthEast United FC and Chennaiyin FC in Guwahati was on Thursday postponed indefinitely after the host city was placed under a curfew following protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

The game was slated to be played at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium there.

“Due to the ongoing unrest in Guwahati, match 37 between NorthEast United FC and Chennaiyin FC has been postponed until further notice,” the ISL said in a statement.

“The league has been in consultation with the concerned authorities over the past 48 hours to determine the best course of action. The safety of fans, players and league staff is of paramount importance, which has led to this decision,” it added.

“Further information regarding the match will be conveyed in due course.”

The two teams did not train on Wednesday and the pre-match media interactions were also called off.

 

Day four of Ranji Trophy game in Assam suspended

Day four proceedings of the Ranji Trophy game between Assam and Services in Guwahati were on Thursday suspended due to the curfew imposed in the city following protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

The hosts were in the middle of their series-opener against the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB). However, after stating that the game in Tripura — between the hosts and Jharkhand — was also suspended, the BCCI clarified that this match was going ahead as scheduled despite the protests in Agartala.

“We have been advised by the state association not to go ahead with the game. Players and match officials have been advised to remain in the hotel. At this stage, the safety of the players and match officials is paramount,” BCCI GM Cricket Operations Saba Karim told PTI.

Asked if the game will be replayed or the points will be shared, Karim added: “As the curfew has been imposed, both teams (in Assam) and match officials have been advised not to leave the hotel. We follow whatever advice we receive from the host association.”

He had earlier stated that matches at both the venues had been called off.

The game in Guwahati was heading for an an exciting finish with Assam needing 168 runs for victory with five wickets in hand.

Services had bounced back strongly after being bundled out for 129 in their first innings.

They dismissed Assam for 162 in response and scored 272 runs in the second innings. In their second essay, Assam were 74 for five at stumps on day three.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

It was passed by Rajya Sabha on Wednesday after being cleared by Lok Sabha on Monday.

 

Nothing to worry about in CAB, Modi tells Assam

Against the backdrop of violent protests in Assam opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured the people of the State on Thursday that they have nothing to worry about the new law.

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Opposition protest against I&B Ministry advisory

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry issued a one-page advisory to television channels on Wednesday evening asking them to exercise caution ensuring that nothing that incites violence is telecast. The Opposition objected to the advisory likening it to Emergency era censorship, coming in the backdrop of the ongoing violence in Assam on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB).

The advisory does not explicitly refer to the Assam violence or the protests related to the CAB. Signed by Ministry Director Amit Katoch, it states that from time to time the Ministry has issued advisories asking the channels to strictly adhere to the “Programme and Advertising Codes” as prescribed in the “Cable Television Networks (Regulation) ACT, 1995.”

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CM’s house attacked

An RSS official told PTI that the organisation’s office in Dibrugarh, Sadya and Tezpur were attacked. The BJP office in Tezpur was also attacked.

Late in the night, curfew was also imposed in Dibrugarh for an indefinite period as protesters targeted the houses of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union Minister Rameswar Teli in the district.

As tens of thousands of anti-CAB protesters descended on the streets of Assam on Wednesday, clashing with police and plunging the State into chaos of a magnitude unseen since the violent six-year movement by students that ended with the signing of the Assam accord, Guwahati was placed under curfew.

Assam has been on the boil ever since the CAB was tabled in the Lok Sabha.

The contentious Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

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Printable version | Jan 30, 2020 1:48:49 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/anti-citizenship-bill-protests-people-defy-curfew-in-guwahati-army-conducts-flag-march/article30283600.ece

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