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Ravana debuts in Assam’s Magh Bihu, courtesy CAA

Local AASU leaders said the 50-foot effigy was symbolic of Ravana.

Local AASU leaders said the 50-foot effigy was symbolic of Ravana.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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AASU burns 50-foot effigy of the mythical character, made of bamboo, cane and hay in eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh

Magh Bihu has never had anything to do with Ramayana.

But the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA), has made Ravana, one of the main characters in the epic, make a debut in Assam’s post-harvest festival of feasting.

The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), which has been spearheading the anti-CAA movement since December 9 last year, burned a 50 ft effigy made of bamboo, cane and hay in eastern Assam’s Dibrugarh on Wednesday morning.

The burning of the effigy with 13 heads was an aberration in a festive custom where bhelaghars -- temporary structures made for Uruka, the night before the Bihu -- are set on fire to appease Agni, the god of fire.

The effigy was symbolic of Ravana, local AASU leaders said. The main head sported a portrait of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

The others carried photographs of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, and leaders of Bharatiya Janata Party and ally Asom Gana Parishad. On the effigy's torso was pasted the photo of BJP's national general secretary Ram Madhav.

Copies of the CAA were burned along with the effigy as well as with bhelaghars elsewhere in Assam.

“We hope the evil unleashed by a jaatidhwangshi (race-destroying) Act is turned to ashes like this Ravana that has evolved from the mythological to the political,” said P. Mahanta, a local AASU leader.

Leaders of the anti-CAA movement have been targeting Mr Sonowal for "betraying the Assamese people" by not resisting the Modi government's "plan to dump non-Muslim Bangladeshis on Assam". More than a decade ago, he was hailed as a jatiya nayak, meaning national hero, for having the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act of 1983 scrapped.

The CAA fast-tracks the process of granting citizenship to six non-Muslim communities who took shelter in India after allegedly fleeing religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Refugees or "illegal migrants" are usually referred to as Bangladeshis in Assam.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 1:11:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/ravana-debuts-in-assams-magh-bihu-courtesy-caa/article30573209.ece

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