Protests lined up in northeast against CAA notification

Organisations representing indigenous communities call for a united fight while the 16-party Opposition alliance announces a non-cooperation movement from Tuesday

Updated - March 12, 2024 12:55 pm IST

Published - March 11, 2024 09:51 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Activists of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) stage a protest after the central government notified the rules for implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, in Guwahati, on March 11, 2024.

Activists of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) stage a protest after the central government notified the rules for implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, in Guwahati, on March 11, 2024. | Photo Credit: PTI

The notification of rules for the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019 has sparked protests in Assam and elsewhere in the northeast.

Members of organisations representing indigenous communities burnt copies of the CAA notification in some parts of Assam on Monday evening as the police sounded a high alert across the State and put barricades in place to offset a rerun of the violent anti-CAA protests in 2019 that left five persons, including a minor, dead.

Led by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), 30 organisations have appealed to people to put up a united fight against the controversial Act while the Congress-led Opposition alliance of 16 political parties announced a Statewide ‘hartal’ or non-cooperation movement from Tuesday.

Click here to know more about CAA

The political parties and NGOs have refrained from calling a bandh given the Gauhati High Court’s 2019 order that makes losses incurred due to shutdowns and damage to public property recoverable from people behind such stirs.

“Riding its numerical strength in Parliament, the government headed by the dictatorial BJP has imposed the CAA on us. This Act will bring doom for the indigenous people of Assam and the rest of the northeast,” AASU president Utpal Sarma said.

“The CAA, which threatens the language, culture, and existence of the Assamese people, cannot be accepted at any cost. We will hit the streets against this Act and challenge it in the court,” he said.

The Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad condemned the Centre’s decision and threatened to intensify the agitation. “We will intensify our protests from Tuesday by burning the effigies of the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister. We cannot allow the Hindu Bangladeshis to be dumped on us,” the organisation’s leader, Palash Changmai said.

Activist-turned-MLA Akhil Gogoi, who spent months in jail on charges of instigating the 2019 anti-CAA violence, said the CAA was an assault on the Assamese community. “The BJP is attacking Assam via this Act like the Mughals did. I appeal to the people to come together to protest against the implementation of the CAA peacefully and democratically,” he said.

Senior Congress leader Debabrata Saikia pointed out that the CAA, paving the way for faster citizenship for non-Muslims who came from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan till December 31, 2014, was a mockery of the Assam Accord of 1985 prescribing March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for accepting those who entered Assam illegally.

“The people to be granted citizenship by the CAA can stay in Assam, buy land and property, and enjoy all facilities. [Narendra] Modi ji had ahead of the 2014 [general] election said all illegal immigrants would be driven out of the country if he became the Prime Minister. After 10 years of serving in the post, he is now allowing the same set of people to come to Assam and become citizens,” he said.

The Assam Jatiya Parishad, a product of the anti-CAA protests five years ago, said the CAA legitimises the rights of illegal migrants over the land, language, and culture of the Assamese people.

“Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and his predecessor Sarbananda Sonowal took votes by committing to protect the Assamese and their land but failed to prevent the Centre from implementing this black law,” he said, calling for a Statewide hartal.

Protests have also been lined up in the other northeastern States, specifically Meghalaya and Tripura, by the North East Students’ Organisation.

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