Guwahati: Lakhs of protesters hit the streets of Assam to protest against the new citizenship law on Wednesday, while state government employees observed a cease work on the same issue paralysing the bureaucracy.
A large number of people courted arrest after marching from Latasil Playground to Dighalipukhuri in the city on the the third and final day of the 'Gana Satyagraha' called by the All Assam Student Union (AASU).
Dressed in their traditional attire 'Mekhela Chador', women were seen at the forefront of the march shouting 'Jai Aai Asom (Hail! Mother Assam).
Representatives of communities such as Muslims, Gorkhas, Sikhs, Jains along with members of the Marwari Yuva Mancha, Purvottar Hindustan Samaj and others also took part in the protests here.
Road traffic was disrupted in the districts of Jorhat, Golaghat, Lakhimpur, Sibsagar, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Barpeta, Morigaon and Bongaigaon as a large number of people descended on the streets to participate in the 'Gana Satyagraha'.
Assam government employees under the aegis of the Sadou Asam Karmachari Parishad (SAKP) and Assam Secretariat Service Association (ASSA) observed cease work to protest against the citizenship law.
Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had announced that the state government will not slash the salary of the staff due to the cease work, but adjust their absence from work with one-day casual leave.
Asam Sahitya Sabha, the premier literary organisation, held a dharna and later took out a procession demanding the withdrawal of the amended Citizenship Act. Lawyers, doctors, students, artistes and litterateurs participated in the protests.
"I am coming everyday for the Satyagraha and will continue my protest till the Act is repealed. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and minister Himanta Biswa Sarma are traitors and must leave the state," Nirupama Devi, a senior citizen, said.
AASU Chief Advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said though the 'Gana Satyagraha' was concluded on Wednesday, "we will continue with our agitation across the state till the Act is withdrawn."
A three-hour 'Citizens' Strike' will be held at the Assam Engineering Field on Thursday, he said. Women have played a major role in the ongoing agitation and "we want them to take the initiative of organising a sit-in on December 21," Bhattacharya said.
AASU General Secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi told PTI that the organisation will not observe any protest in Guwahati on December 22 as the 'shradh' of the first martyr of this movement Sam Stafford would be observed on that day.
Stafford was killed in police firing on December 11. Protests would also be held every day between December 23 and 28, Gogoi said.
"We will announce the future course of our agitation on December 28," he added. The influential Srimanta Sankardeva Sangha also participated in Wednesday's protest.