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Violence mars protests against Citizenship Bill in northeastern States

Demonstrators burn tyres during a strike called by All Assam Students’ Union and the North East Students’ Organisation in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, in Guwahati on December 10, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

An 11-hour shutdown against the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment Bill, 2016 (CAB), disrupted large swathes of the northeastern States on Tuesday with protesters resorting to violence in some places and clashing with the police.

Several people, including security personnel, were injured as protesters damaged vehicles and shops in Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya capital Shillong.

In Tripura, the government ordered suspension of internet and SMS services for two days as paramilitary personnel opened fire in the air and lobbed teargas shells to disperse violent anti-CAB protesters in some areas.

The protests shepherded by the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) were most intense across the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam and Tripura, two States perceived to bear the brunt of migrants from Bangladesh who could be made citizens through the CAB, if it becomes a law.

The other northeastern States “insulated” by the Sixth Schedule status and inner-line permit regulation either shut down or held token protests to express solidarity with Assam and Tripura.


The CAB seeks to fast-track the process of granting citizenship to people belonging to six non-Muslim religious groups who have allegedly fled persecution from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan till December 31, 2014.

The anger against the CAB move had been brewing over a week, affecting normal life and local businesses in Assam and Tripura. On Tuesday, they snowballed into a spontaneous movement with local residents, including senior citizens, spilling on to the streets. Elsewhere, the protestors in Assam blocked the movement of trains and vehicular traffic forcing the cancellation of some trains.

“The protest this time is more intense than the one in January. The common people have risen against an anti-constitutional bill that threatens their land, language and culture,” said Lurinjyoti Gogoi, general secretary of All Assam Students’ Union, a constituent of NESO.

In Guwahati, a large number of people laid siege to strategic areas chanting anti-BJP and anti-government slogans and burning tyres. Some tried to march to Dispur, the State’s seat of power, but were prevented on the way by the police and paramilitary forces.

Such was the anger that the protestors prevented the movement of VIPs such as Assam’s Education Minister Siddhartha Bhattacharya forcing his convoy to return to his private residence. Many staged protests outside the houses of the MLAs of the ruling BJP and Asom Gana Parishad with mobs attacking or damaging the offices of these political parties in some semi-urban areas.

Apart from writers and intellectuals, some film personalities and singers too hit the streets and decided against taking part in any government functions. They also called for the boycott of the Indo-Japan summit in the city from December 15-17 to be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.

Among the protestors was national award-winning filmmaker Jahnu who withdrew his film “Bhoga Khirikee” (Broken Window) from the upcoming Assam film awards.

Members of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) and the pro-talks groups too have threatened to destabilise Assam if the Centre “does not stop playing with our emotions”. On Tuesday morning, the police removed a flag of the ULFA-I that was hoisted in Dibrugarh district’s Barbaruah Lower Primary School soon after the CAB was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

Watch | All about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal asked different organisations not to spread misinformation regarding the CAB) to create panic among the masses. “The present State government, formed by indigenous people of the State, will not do not anything to jeopardise the identity of the Assamese race,” he said, calling all sections of the society to work for bringing positive changes and development.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2022 6:01:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/violence-mars-protests-against-citizenship-bill-in-northeastern-states/article30269312.ece

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