Bandh against Citizenship Bill shuts down Northeast, six injured

The protestors, mostly members of various organisations, damaged a number of vehicles.

Published: 08th January 2019 07:09 PM  |   Last Updated: 08th January 2019 07:10 PM   |  A+A-

Image for representational purpose only.

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: Sporadic incidents of violence were reported during Tuesday’s 11-hour “Northeast bandh” called by the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which the Centre seeks to pass in Parliament to grant citizenship to immigrants belonging to six non-Muslim communities who fled Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the face of religious persecution.

In Tripura, at least six protestors of Twipra Students’ Federation were injured in police action in state capital Agartala. One of them sustained bullet injuries. All the injured persons were admitted to a hospital.

In Assam too, the bandh was marked by violence. The protestors, mostly members of various organisations, damaged a number of vehicles. They squatted on the railway track to block the movement of trains and burnt tyres on the streets to prevent the movement of vehicles. They also burnt the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal to register their protest against the Bill.

The protestors were livid with the BJP for its decision to get the Bill passed. In Upper Assam’s Dibrugarh town, volunteers of All Assam Students' Union (AASU) clashed with the police when they made an attempt to target a BJP office. In Golaghat town, the protestors made their way into a BJP office and set ablaze the party’s banners and posters. In northern Assam’s Lakhimpur, the protestors put up a black flag at a BJP office. They shouted slogans against the CM outside his Dibrugarh residence and demanded his resignation.

The bandh had thrown life out of gear in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram where shops and commercial establishments, government offices and educational and financial institutes remained closed. The apex students’ organisations in all these states had supported the bandh. The bandh, however, had little impact in Tripura and Assam’s Barak Valley. 

The NESO slammed the Sonowal government for its alleged meek surrender to the Central government on the Bill. “The cabinets of Meghalaya and Mizoram had adopted a resolution opposing this Bill. Why could the Assam government not do that?” chief advisor to NESO and AASU, Samujjal Bhattacharya, asked.

Two-time former CM and AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta dared the BJP to go to mid-term polls.

“It is a three-party coalition government in Assam. After the AGP decided to pull out of the government, the BJP has no moral right to hang on to power. We demand the BJP dissolve the government and go to mid-term election if they have the guts,” Mahanta said.

He also said that if the AGP and the Bodoland People’s Front had not aligned with the BJP ahead of the 2016 Assam elections, the saffron party could not have won so many seats.

The three AGP ministers and some party MLAs, serving as heads of various corporations, will resign on Wednesday. Protesting the Centre’s move to get the Bill passed, BJP spokesman Mehedi Alom Bora resigned from the party on Tuesday.

Peasants’ body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samitee (KMSS), which is spearheading the anti-Citizenship Bill protests, threatened if it so warranted, the KMSS would launch a movement to secure a sovereign Assam.

Meanwhile, Assam minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma said it was three cheers for the state.

“Three historic cheers! Citizenship Amendment Bill will save 17 Assembly constituencies from Jinnah's ideology. Constitutional status to Clause 6 of #AssamAccord will protect us from demographic invasion. Tribal status to 6 communities will make Assam forte of indigenous people. Indebted to PM,” Sarma tweeted. 

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