Protests rage on in Assam for the fourth consecutive day against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 which sailed through both the Upper and Lower house and awaits the President’s assent before becoming a law.
As the protests swell, an angry mob in Assam’s Chabua district has set BJP MLA Binod Hazarika’s house on fire and went on the rampage torching vehicles and the circle office.
Moreover, the residence of Angoorlata Deka, who is BJP MLA from Assam’s Batadroba constituency, was vandalised by protesters and an incident of firing occurred outside the residence of Tapan Gogoi, BJP MP from Jorhat in Assam.
Santanu Bharali’s residence was also vandalised by protesters. He is the legal adviser to the Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal. The BJP office in Jorhat was also gheraoed by protesters, sources said.
The enraged protestors also attacked Assam Police chief Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta’s convoy on Thursday when he was touring the city. Stones were pelted as the cavalcade was on the Guwahati-Shillong Road near Christian Basti.
The convoy had to stop several times as the entire stretch was blocked by protesters who put up wooden structures and iron barricades. When the vehicles stopped in the Christian Basti area and security personnel were clearing the road, some protesters threw stones. No one was hurt and no damage occurred.
While mobile and internet services remain suspended in 10 districts of Assam, Guwahati, the epicentre of the protests, is under indefinite curfew. Army has been deployed in Assam and Tripura, and railway and air traffic are severely hit. Around 300 protestors have been detained.
According to reports, a contingent of Rashtriya Rifles has also reached the state to help the Central Armed Police Force. It is being reported that until now 5 columns of the military have been deployed in Assam whereas 3 columns have been deployed in Tripura.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians, who entered the country from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan by December 31, 2014.
Amidst various rumour-mongering, the people of the Northeast fears that giving citizenship to refugees will dilute the local language and culture. While most Northeastern states are exempt from the Citizenship Amendment Bill due to the Inner Line Permit System and/or the sixth Schedule of the Constitution, Assam, and parts of Tripura, are protected by neither.
Assam, which has a porous border with Bangladesh, has long fought against the influx of Bangladeshi migrants.
As the protest in Assam continued to mount, PM Narendra Modi appealed to the people of Northeast, saying his government would safeguard their language, culture and identity “under all circumstances”.
Addressing an election rally in Jharkhand’s Dhanbad, Modi said, “I want to assure my brothers and sisters of Assam that they have nothing to worry after the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. I want to assure them – no one can take away your rights, unique identity and beautiful culture. It will continue to flourish and grow.”
PM Modi also accused the Congress of misleading people of the Northeast.