GUWAHATI: Assam continued to remain peaceful although there was no letup in the protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, (CAA) even as the state’s Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Monday urged people not to spread “rumours” that lakhs of people would migrate to Assam from Bangladesh to be beneficiaries of the CAA.
“It’s a rumour that people (from Bangladesh) will come. We are examining if some people are saying this out of their ignorance on the CAA or to disturb public peace and tranquility. We will find out what their intention is or if they are doing this to instigate the public or link it with something,” Sarma told journalists.
He appealed to people not to talk about things that were not in the new citizenship law. He said the CAA cut-off date is December 31, 2014, and it meant people who migrated before that day and have stayed in the country for five years would be able to register for citizenship.
According to him, an estimated 5.42 lakh people (non-Muslims) will benefit from the CAA. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) saw a little over 19 lakh people being left out.
Sarma said most people, involved in the recent violent incidents in Guwahati, were from outside the city.
He also said 136 cases had been registered and 190 people arrested in connection with the violence and a high-level probe would be conducted into the incidents.
“The state government has no intention to control democratic protests. Let the democratic protests continue. The government will try to resolve issues through dialogues,” he said.
Talking on the arrest of RTI activist Akhil Gogoi, Sarma said the case had been handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
“A case against him (Gogoi) was registered with Chandmari police station (in Guwahati). That case is now being taken care of by the NIA,” he said.
Prior to his arrest, Gogoi had claimed that 1.9 crore “Bangladeshis” would come to Assam and the land, language and culture of the Assamese and other indigenous communities would be at stake.
Opposition Congress demanded the state government probe the incidents of police firing through a sitting judge of the Gauhati High Court and pay compensation of Rs.20 lakh to Rs.25 lakh to each of the families of the five people killed during the violence. The party said it would not allow the CAA to be implemented in Assam till 2021 when the state elections would be held.
Meanwhile, the protests were staged peacefully in many parts of the state on Monday.
Samujjal Bhattacharya, who is the chief advisor to All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi were briefly detained by the police in Guwahati. The police took them into their custody on the first day of the AASU’s three-day “satyagraha”.
The students’ body said it would keep staging the protests. A protest programme will be organised by the AASU at Latasil playground in Guwahati on Tuesday.
As mobile internet service has been further suspended by another 24 hours till 7 pm of Tuesday, four PILs were filed in the Gauhati HC by three advocates and a journalist seeking the restoration of the service.
Curfew was relaxed in Guwahati and Dibrugarh.
Sixty passenger trains plying within the state and 19 long-distance trains were cancelled and about half a dozen flights were also cancelled on the day.
In Meghalaya, the situation was normal. Curfew, imposed in certain areas of the hill station, was relaxed from 6 am to 7 pm on Monday.
Mobile internet service continued to remain suspended there. The Meghalaya Peoples’ Human Rights Council (MPHRC) has urged the state government to lift the curfew.