Protests continue in Assam against Citizenship Bill

Assam Sahitya Sabha members protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016, in Guwahati, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019

Guwahati: Protests continued unabated against the Citizenship Bill across Assam on Sunday, and over 100 agitators were picked up when they blocked the road to Kaziranga University, where Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal went for its convocation.

While Sonowal was in the fifth convocation ceremony of the university at Jorhat, over 100 protesters from Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) shouted slogans and showed black flags in front of the main gate. As the protesters tried to enter the premises, security forces confronted them, leading to a clash. Members from both sides suffered minor injuries.

The situation was brought under control after the arrest of over 100 protesters and all of them were immediately shifted from the university campus, a police official said.

The condition of three student leaders, who were on an indefinite hunger strike inside the jail after they were arrested on January 8 for allegedly vandalising a BJP office at Golaghat, deteriorated and they were admitted to hospital.

Members of AJYCP tonsured their heads at Jamugurihat, demanding immediate withdrawal of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

In Karbi Anglong district, hundreds of students blocked National Highway-36 for hours, while Jogi and Kalita communities burnt copies of the Bill on NH-37 at Dudhnoi in Goalpara.

Leading artistes, poets and singers, including popular singer Dikshu, held a sit-in at Golaghat and demanded the government scrap the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill called for burning of the replica of the Bill during 'Magh Bihu' on Tuesday.

Criticising the BJP-led governments at the Centre and state, the Left Democratic Manch vowed to continue the agitation till the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was scrapped completely and announced a series of programme across the state from February 1.

Meanwhile, activist Akhil Gogoi has announced he would stage a 24-hour hunger strike on Monday against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Gogoi, who is adviser of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), also appealed to the Congress to ensure the defeat of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Gogoi said the KMSS will try to meet all other opposition parties to convince them to stand against the bill in the Upper House, where the controversial document is likely to be placed for passage during the Budget Session beginning January 31.

He criticised the Congress for "not taking a strong stand" against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, when it was introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8. "Congress should play its national role. The people of Assam are keenly watching them. So, I appeal to them to stake a bold step and ensure that it is never passed in the Rajya Sabha," Gogoi said in a press conference in Guwahati.

The Congress will become history if it wants to play the "soft Hindutva card" and directly or indirectly supports the bill for passage in the Upper House, he said.

Gogoi also warned the Narendra Modi government and the state BJP government that if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed, then the "law and order situation in northeast was surely going to deteriorate" and the BJP-led government would be responsible for that.

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