GUWAHATI: After two days of violence on Wednesday and Thursday in protest against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (CAB), Assam witnessed a peaceful atmosphere for the second day on Saturday.
Curfew was relaxed from 9 am to 4 pm in Guwahati and adjoining areas on Saturday. It was also lifted from 8 am to 2 pm in Dibrugarh and Sonitpur districts and from 6 am to 12 noon in Jorhat district. Guwahati and Dibrugarh were the worst-hit in the violence.
As shops had opened in most places, people went out in large numbers to buy essential commodities and stockpile them. Four columns of the Army are still deployed in Guwahati.
“They haven’t been de-requisitioned yet. They are in some bases in the city and not on the roads,” a defence source said.
People staged peaceful protests against the CAB in several parts of the state on Saturday. The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) has chalked out a series of protest programmes and as part of it, the students’ body would launch a three-day “satyagraha” on Monday. The AASU, Assam Public Works, which is an NGO, and the Assam Sahitya Sabha, which is the state’s highest literary body, already said they would challenge the CAB in the Supreme Court.
Two people were killed and over 20 others injured in police firing in Guwahati on Thursday. The police arrested and detained nearly 100 people across the state for their involvement in the violence.
Mobile internet services continued to remain suspended in the state while educational institutes have remained shut. They are likely to reopen on Monday.
The Northeast Frontier Railway said barring a few, all long-distance trains were plying to and from Guwahati. Some passenger trains to southern Assam’s Barak Valley and Agartala in Tripura were also plying.
The NFR ran a special train to Nagaland’s commercial hub Dimapur from Guwahati on Saturday to take people, mostly students, stranded in the Assam capital.
As the supply of LPG cylinders has been affected for the past four days, people are staring at a shortage. People in the rest of the Northeast also face a shortage of LPG cylinders and essential commodities.
Meanwhile, Nagaland observed a six-hour-long bandh till 12 noon on Saturday. It was called by the influential Naga Students’ Federation in protest against the CAB and in solidarity with the protesters in Assam. Normal life had come to a grinding halt during the bandh.
In Meghalaya's capital Shillong, the situation was peaceful on Saturday. Curfew was relaxed from 10 am to 10 pm. Dozens of people were injured in police action on Friday when a mob was staging a protest demonstration outside the Raj Bhawan demanding the introduction of inner line permit (ILP) in the state.
The ILP is a travel document currently enforced also in the “protected” states of Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh. The Centre on Monday had announced that the ILP would be enforced in Manipur too. An “Indian” is required to carry the document while travelling to these states. The stay is permitted for a limited period.