The North-East states witnessed 11 hours shut down called by an umbrella body of students’ organisations of the region to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), backed by various other bodies and political parties, observed the shutdown till 5 pm against the bill.
While hundreds of commuters were stranded at Guwahati airport due to the shutdown call, the commercial institutions and shops in the main markets of the capital city remained closed due to the protest called by student bodies.
To prevent any untoward incident, the Assam administration had imposed Section 144 in several districts, including Sonitpur, Lakhimpur and Tinsukia. Due to the shutdown call, the exams in Gauhati University and Dibrugarh University in the state have been postponed.
The Assamese artist Barkha Rani and Utpal Das also participated in the protest. Locals in the protest told India Today TV that the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 will undermine the Assamese identity and demography will be subverted by the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
The amendment bill seeks to give relief to illegal non-Muslims who migrated to Assam as well as the rest of India.
“We are opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill as it will grant citizenship to all the Bangladeshi immigrants. Our population is already exceeding 3 crores and 2 crores more Bangladeshi will settle down here who will take away our jobs,” Tappan Mehenta – a protestor said.
Raghav Gogoi, another protester, said, “We brought BJP government in Assam but Saravanan Saonwal-led BJP government in the state has backstabbed us.
Gogoi said, “They carried out NRC to filter illegal immigrants and we supported, but now they are bringing Citizenship Amendment Bill to increase their vote bank in Assam. They are not thinking about us, where will we go? Our life is already under threat, we have to live in the hilly areas or at the banks of Brahmaputra, which is being washed away every year in the flood.”
Many protesters were detained by the police as they blocked state and national highways. The protestors, however, did not obstruct the emergency vehicles like ambulance and fire brigade and allowed them safe passage through their protest march. Multiple stretches the protesters burned tyres to block roads.
Even the city police chief faced the heat. Guwahati police commissioner Deepak Kumar was gheraod by the agitators in the main town while he was passing through to assess the law and order situation of the protest called by youth bodies.
An infant died on his way to the hospital as anti-Citizenship Amendment Bill protests in Northeast turned violent on Tuesday leaving 20 injured. In Guwahati, at least six protestors were reportedly injured when the police resorted to lathi-charge and fired tear gas shells.
A few more protesters were injured during clashes with the security personnel in Jorhat, Golaghat and Nagaon. The protesters in Guwahati had set up a blockade and burnt tyres to protest against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill.
According to the reports, the incidents took place at Down Town, Six Mile and Maligaon area in the capital city of Assam. The district administrations have imposed Section 144 in several districts in Assam including Tinsukia, Sonitpur and Lakhimpur districts following the ongoing protests against the bill.
The exams in Gauhati University and Dibrugarh University in the state have also been postponed. Indian Railways said that eight trains have been cancelled and another eight trains were short terminated due to indefinite ‘Rail Roko’ (stop the trains) by various organisations and associations in Tinsukia division in Assam.
Large parts of the Northeast on Tuesday simmered with protests with choked roads leaving an ailing two-month-old baby dead on way to the hospital.
(With inputs from Hemanta Kumar Nath)