As the contentious citizenship bill had a tryst with its destiny in the Rajya Sabha on December 11, Wednesday, the rather nonchalant states of the north-east took a bitter turn to protest against the bill.
With moving speeches, opposition leaders of Congress and Trinamool Congress countered Home Minister Amit Shah’s reasons to make amendments on the Citizenship Act 1955.
From comparing the move with the rise of Nazism in Germany which led to the genocide of millions of Jews, to declaring it purely unconstitutional in nature, the session is concluded with the bill passing in the upper house.
The already disgruntled people of Northeastern states flocked the streets, set the tyres on fire, vandalized public spaces as the slogans went louder in the backdrop, “Go back BJP.”
The Panitola railway station in Tinsukia district was also torched, a Northeast Frontier Railway spokesperson said.
The army from Kashmir was sent to calm the situation in Assam as the northeast states remained to be in the edge. Several airlines too have cancelled flights to Guwahati and Dibrugarh.
The North East Students’ Organisation has called for an 11-hour shutdown in the region to protest against the Bill. Political parties like the Congress, the All India United Democratic Front and the All Assam Students Union are in support of the shutdown.
People in the seven states stood united against the bill that they think will jeopardize the indigenous culture of the seven sisters of India.
“Assam is protesting against the CAB that has been passed in the Lok Sabha because we all know that it will be a reason for the destruction of our culture, identity and language. Assam has witnessed the influx of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh for a long time, which has already greatly affected the economic and social conditions of the state,” Ananya, one of the protestors from Assam told The Logical Indian.
Amidst sloganeering against the Centre, raising the torch of justice high towards the sky, and singing together Assam’s state song, the massive protest manifested into a political soiree in Assam.
“We believe in peaceful protests. Though we vehemently oppose the idea of implementing such amendments in the Citizenship act. Through our protest, we just want to draw media attention towards the crisis our state is facing right now,” another protester said.
However, the protests later gained momentum and became violent.
“Agitators has a row with the security forces near the Secretariat and Assembly buildings in Assam when they were prevented from marching ahead,” police told the media.
Three protesters sustained injuries as they tried to prevent workers of Oil India Ltd (OIL) from entering their offices in Duliajan while around 20 people were severely injured in protests across Assam.
As the situation became volatile in the north-east, a massive bandh has been declared across the seven states by student bodies and trade unions. In some critical areas, Section-144 has also been imposed.
“Although BJP may have imposed section 144 in many districts like Sonitpur, Sivasagar etc., it won’t lessen the spirit of Assam’s people in any way. It has only strengthened our will to protest and fight for what we believe in. The BJP may terminate internet services but it cannot contain the revolutionary spirit of all the people. We are protesting and we will keep on protesting in the days to come because Assam has always been tolerant towards every language and religion and it stands against divide and hatred,” Ananya added.
Ananya posed rhetoric that India is already witnessing the problem of population explosion, then how will the country ready to host refugees from the neighbouring Islamic states. “Apart from this, isn’t the CAB against the secular nature of our constitution? Doesn’t it violate our Assam Accord? Won’t it be an extra burden on the economy of our country and state as a whole as it is already in a degraded condition?” she retorted.
While, Lurin Jyoti Gogoi, General Secretary of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) believes that the people have taken to the streets as they feel that the bill is a violation of the Assam Accord and the people of North East feel betrayed by the very constitution that guaranteed to protect them.
Situation Critical In Assam
Assam has been at the helm of the protest against the bill. The state has gone into limbo as the All Assam Students’ Union and the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) has ordered for a state-wide shutdown in Assam’s Brahmaputra Valley.
Several Left-leaning organisations, including the SFI, DYFI, AIDWA, AISF and AISA had also called a shutdown separately. Huge processions were taken out in different areas of Guwahati, with protesters raising slogans against the inflammatory legislation.
“If the bill somehow passes and gets implemented, Assam will face larger economic and social drawbacks in all sectors be it in education, jobs, land or any other resources and the language and culture of the Assamese people. Therefore, neither Assam nor the other north-eastern regions are in a position to take in all the other people who would be allowed citizenship through naturalization,” Ananya explained the after-effects of the bill.
2 Month Old Baby Died As Tripura Observes Shutdown
Normalcy has been disrupted in Tripura as residents choose to remain indoors avoiding going to public places. Train services in the entire state came to a halt and vehicular movement was affected. Tripur witnessed internet blackout as the authority alleged that the fake messages were being circulated on Whatsapp. An ailing two-month-old baby died at Bishramganj in Sepahijala district while being taken to a hospital as agitators blocked vehicular traffic, police said.
Educational institutions, banks, commercial establishments and markets witnessed shutdown while public and private vehicles were off the roads in most places in Arunachal Pradesh in response to the strike called by the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU).
The shutdown called by the All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) from 3 am to 6 pm elicited an overwhelming response, and the organisation has warned it would intensify the agitation if the bill was not immediately withdrawn.
Incidents of tyre burning, vandalisation of vehicles, and razing the copy of the bill were reported in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong.
Members of Naga Students Federation (NSF) also staged a protest right in front of the Raj Bhavan against the CAB, even as the NESO, which called for a bandh in the northeast, give some reservations to Nagaland in view of the Hornbill Festival.
According to Upmanyu Hazarika, a Supreme Court lawyer, the seven sisters of India deserves exclusivity as provided since the colonial era. He believes that the inclusion of any refugee community in the indigenous seven sisters will threaten the tribal culture and lifestyle of these states.