GUWAHATI: Ministers, MPs and MLAs in Assam have become the targets of protestors opposed to the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
The protestors are grilling the lawmakers on the Bill wherever they are finding them. They are also showing them black flags and staging protests outside their residences.
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Sunday had to face the wrath of the protestors as they showed him black flag. The incident occurred when Sonowal was travelling to Kaliabor in Central Assam by road to attend a programme.
In Upper Assam’s Golaghat, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) president and the state’s Agriculture Minister Atul Bora got stranded as a group of protestors gheraoed his private residence there. The protestors demanded an explanation from him on why he was endorsing the Bill by ignoring the voices of the people.
In Dibrugarh, the protestors vandalised the AGP office and staged a protest outside the private residence of BJP MLA Prasanta Phukan. Born out of the Assam Agitation, the AGP is an ally of the BJP and a constituent of the state’s three-party ruling coalition.
AGP leader and the state’s Food and Civil Supplies Minister Phani Bhushan Choudhury had to run to safety on Saturday to escape the rage of protestors. He faced protest at Manikpur in Lower Assam’s Bongaigaon district where he had gone to attend a programme of his party.
Union Minister of State for Food Processing, Rameswar Teli, had also faced the ire of protestors in his home district, Dibrugarh, on Saturday. The incident occurred when he had gone to Naharkatiya to take stock of the preparation of Jaipur Rain Forest Festival.
A group of members of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) hurled a volley of questions at him asking him on why the BJP had initiated the move to grant Indian citizenship to the immigrants who came till December 31, 2014 when Clause 5 of the historic Assam Accord says the “immigrants who migrated after March 24, 1971 are to be detected and deported”.
In Guwahati, the students of prestigious Cotton University put up posters along with photographs in public places of the “missing” Rajya Sabha member and AGP leader Birendra Prasad Baishya seeking information about him. The students were miffed over the silence of the otherwise firebrand leader in Parliament on the issue of the Bill.
Meanwhile, the protests against the Bill were staged at many places of Assam on Sunday. Speaking at a protest demonstration in Guwahati, Anup Chetia, who is a leader of the pro-talks faction of rebel group United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), accused the government of creating an Assam Agitation-type situation. Hundreds of lives were lost in the six-year-long Assam Agitation of early 1980s which led to the signing of the Assam Accord between Rajiv Gandhi government and AASU in 1985.
RTI activist and leader of peasants’ body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samitee (KMSS), Akhil Gogoi, on Sunday appealed to the people to stand up against the Bill. He warned that the Bill would be a grave threat for the Assamese and other indigenous communities.
He declared that he and other KMSS leaders would visit villages across the state from December 11 and hold public meetings there to mobilise opinions against the Bill.