Ready to Die but Won’t Accept Citizenship Bill; Protests Intensify in Assam

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People take part in torchlight protest rally against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Guwahati on Saturday. (ANI)

Caravan News

GUWAHATI – Protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) have intensified in Assam ahead of the BJP-led NDA government at Centre tabling it in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

The legislation, which seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who entered India till December 31, 2014, is expected to be passed in Lok Sabha on Monday and tabled in Rajya Sabha the next day.

Student organizations, civil society groups and opposition parties in Assam have been protesting against the legislation saying it would lead to influx of religious minorities from Bangladesh and hurt the interests of indigenous communities. On the other hand, Muslims from across the country are up against the contentious bill as it is excluding them from the citizenship. Civil rights group United Against Hate held a massive protest against the bill at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi on Saturday urging people to register their protest against this legislation.

Sit-in protests, rallies and protest marches have been held in the state since the past week and ministers of the BJP-led coalition in Assam which includes Asom Gana Parishad have been shown black flags and their effigies burnt.

North East Students Organisation (NESO), which comprises of student bodies from seven states in the region, has called a 11-hour general strike beginning 5 am against the CAB on Tuesday.

All Assam Students Union (AASU), the state’s biggest student body, has also announced a series of protests opposing the legislation.

“Assam is not the dustbin for illegal immigrants. The BJP at Centre is bent on bringing the legislation based on its numbers in Parliament. We will not accept it and continue protests,”  AASU chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya on Saturday was quoted by Hindustan Times as saying.

Congress and the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), the two main opposition parties in the state, are also protesting against CAB saying it is against provisions of Assam Accord of 1985.

On Sunday, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal urged protesters to desist from such activities and focus on development instead. He said his government will not do anything that goes against Assam and Assamese.

“I appeal to all protesters to give up their agitation as no development can take place through protests. We should focus on peace and create a proper work culture in the state,” Sonowal said while laying foundation stone of a flyover in Guwahati.

Security has been tightened across the state in view of the protests and tabling of CAB in Parliament. Assam Police have urged the public not to spread hate messages and fake news related to the legislation.

“Some mischievous elements are attempting to spread hate message and fake news regarding the proposed CAB. We request all stakeholders of society not to believe in the disinformation being spread by such elements,” Assam Police tweeted.

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