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Assam Bandh Today as Tribals Protest Govt’s Move to Grant ST Status to 6 Ethnic Groups

The bandh comes close on the heels of an 11-hour strike called on Tuesday against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

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Updated:January 11, 2019, 7:33 AM IST
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Assam Bandh Today as Tribals Protest Govt’s Move to Grant ST Status to 6 Ethnic Groups
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Guwahati: A conglomerate of tribal bodies in Assam has called a 24-hour bandh Friday to protest a bill that seeks to grant scheduled tribe status to six ethnic groups of the state.

The bandh by the Coordination Committee of the Tribal Organisations of Assam (CCTOA) comes close on the heels of an 11-hour strike called on Tuesday against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. "The central and state governments have hatched a plot to eliminate the genuine tribals of the state," Aditya Khaklary, convenor, CCTOA, said on Thursday.

Section 144 (unlawful assembly) has been imposed in Guwahati city.

Assam police slapped sedition charges against Sahitya Akademi awardee Hiren Gohain for a speech he delivered at a rally in Guwahati on January 7, opposing the Centre’s decision to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the Lok Sabha.

The ruling BJP, however, defended the move and accused RTI activist Akhil Gogoi, against whom sedition charges were also slapped, of having links with Maoists and "terrorising" people with a "false issue" by campaigning against the bill.

The police on Thursday booked litterateur Hiren Gohain, KMSS chief Gogoi and senior journalist Manjit Mahanta under sedition charges for their comments on the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

The Congress, the AIUDF, the AGP along with the KMSS and the AASU termed the police action as ''unfortunate'' and alleged it has been carried out at the behest of the BJP government in Assam.

The Congress slammed the Sarbananda Sonowal government which it said believes "Hitler as a hero".

Leader of the Opposition in the assembly Debabrata Saikia accused the Sarbananda Sonowal government for harassing people who are speaking against the "anti-Assam" policies and are creating awareness about their undemocratic and autocratic ways.

''Sonowal considers 'Hitler' as his hero and now it is certain that Hitlerian action will be taken on all those opposing his misconduct", the Congress leader said.

AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said it was indeed ''sad and shameful" that a sedition case has been filed against intellectual and social thinker Hiren Gohain and two others'.

The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Amendment Bill seeks to accord ST status to six ethnic groups -- Koch-Rajbongshis, Tea Tribes/Adivasis, Tai Ahoms, Morans, Motoks and Chutia -- was tabled in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The CCTOA accused both the governments for not taking the tribals into confidence while initiating the move. Khaklary said the bandh will begin from 5 am and end on Saturday morning with all essential services exempted from its purview.

On Tuesday, the AASU, supported by more than 100 organisations, had called a state-wide bandh to protest the citizenship bill.

Khaklary said Assam's tribals will continue their struggle to defeat this move, which is aimed at deriving political mileage

Tabling of the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Amendment Bill "is an attempt to console the indigenous people in Assam by announcing the grant of ST status to six communities in the state and it will lead to deterioration in the prevailing situation in the state," he said.

Security across the state has been beefed up in the wake of the bandh call and the continuing protests against the citizenship bill, a police official said.
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