One month on in Assam and...
No let-up in anti-CAA protests
GUWAHATI, Jan 10
There is not let-up in protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) in Assam which completed one month on Thursday. The All Assam Students' Union (Aasu), which is leading the protests, has vowed to carry on until the Act is scrapped.
According to the State Government, the end lies in the Assembly elections early next year because the agitation has now turned into an oust-BJP campaign. "Our doors for discussions are open but only if they (protesters) stick to opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. In this month, the notation of the protest has changed. What do we discuss if they want to float a new party to oust BJP ? This has to be resolved in EVMs only," said State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
According to Himanta, the protesters are more focused on ousting BJP than on the opposing the Act now. "The protest has become all about BJP now," he said, adding, "We are meeting Union Home Minister Amit Shah today for framing rules of the Act. There will be several safeguards for Assamese language and culture. We will do something."
So far, the State Government's attempts to placate anti-CAA protesters by doling out welfare schemes and providing financial assistance to satras and sahitya sabhas have yielded no result. AASU leaders have made it clear that study, work, play and protest will continue hand-in-hand. "We will not rest until the Act is scrapped. Students will simultaneously carry on their studies, the movement against CAA, and also play sports now," said AASU president Dipanko Kumar Nath. By sports, he was referring to the 3rd edition of Khelo India Youth Games, which will kick off here on Friday.
He added, "We are not opposing Khelo India. But we would have protested vehemently had the Prime Minister come here to open the Games because we oppose the way he has imposed this Act on the people of Assam." Nath said if the PM remains adamant on the CAA, he would have to face people's anger whenever he visits the State.
The AASU leader added, "We will continue our peaceful democratic movement on the streets and also our legal battle in the Supreme Court."
The month-long anti-CAA protest started off with an 11-hour Assam bandh in response to a call given by Chutia Students' Union. The next day, the entire North East was shut down by the bandh call given by all students bodies of the region under the umbrella of North East Students Organization. On December 11, the simmering tension turned critical soon after Union Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the contentious Bill in the Rajya Sabha. The Army had to be called out in Assam and Tripura.
On December 12, the protests took a violent turn and soon was marked by arson and largescale violence in Guwahati and upper Assam. Police resorted to firing in the air at several areas in Guwahati to disperse hundreds of protesters and four persons died - two on the same day and two after a few days in hospital. The Army was deployed, curfew was clamped and mobile internet was suspended.
People still defied curfew and staged protests but violence was limited. What followed was strings of protest rallies by students, artistes, civil society and even Government employees until December 21, when the ruling BJP came out on the streets with its counter peace rallies. Rallies in support of and against CAA are still continuing. TNN