CAA Casts Shadow On Bihu Celebrations In Assam
Amidst Magh Bihu festivities in Assam, people register their voice against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) were staged in the midst of Uruka (Bihu Eve) and Magh Bihu festivities in Assam.
Magh Bihu also called Bhogali Bihu or the harvest festival marks the end of the harvesting season. Bonfires (Meji) are lit for the ceremonial conclusion and prayer to the God of fire.
This new year was marked by the voice of opposition of the Assamese people who burned CAA copies in the bonfires. Other placards and banners were also in display at different places around the state which read "CAA ami namanu" (we will not accept CAA), "CAA batil koriboi lagibo" (CAA must be repealed) and "Jai Aai Asom" (Glory to Mother Assam).
In addition, pictures of BJP leaders were stuck to the bonfires. People also wore 'gamosa' (traditional woven towels) and badges with "Say NO to CAA" inscribed on them.
On the night of Uruka, makeshift huts (bhelaghar or mejighar) are erected where the community feast takes place. This time the theme of most of the 'bhelaghars' was CAA.
Bihu is celebrated all over Assam with pomp and gaiety, however, CAA seemed to have cast its shadow on this year's celebrations and dampen the festive spirit.
The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and other students' bodies urged the Assamese people to continue the protests during the festivities.
"We will celebrate our festivals but will not stay away from staging our opposition to the CAA. CAA is a threat to the indigenous people of Assam and all the northeast states. So, we will continue doing that," AASU chief adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya told the media.
Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) were carried out in Assam and other parts of the North East in January 2019. However, the scene was intensified after the bill was passed in the Parliament in December 2019. It claimed the lives of five people and the wide destruction of property.
Lakhs of people took part in the mass demonstrations, starting from women to students and senior citizens. But Assam is fighting against the Act for reasons different than the rest of the nation. The people are fearful of the immigration of people to their state who would hamper their language, culture, and tradition.
The CAA grants citizenship to Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Hindus, Christians, and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh who had come to India before the 31st of December, 2014. This, in turn, violates the Assam Accord of 1985. The Act shifts the cut-off date for granting citizenship from 24th March 1971 to 31st December 2014. Assam thus sees the act as an attack on their identity, culture, and language.