‘Anything for Motherland’: Thousands Held during Day 1 of AASU's Satyagraha, Assam Govt Defiant
The All Assam Students’ Union began a three-day peaceful protest against the amended Citizenship Act with a rally from the Latashil playground to Meghdoot Bhawan, the main post office, from where protesters were detained and taken away in buses.
People from different parts of the city took part in the mass rally in Guwhati. (News18)
Guwahati: Dressed in traditional ‘mekhela sador’, 78-year-old Putuli Kalita, who had taken part in the Assam Movement, was among the thousands of ‘satyagrahis’ arrested by the state government on Monday for leading a march against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
“I feel good that they arrested me – anything for my motherland. Back in the Eighties, we were part of such a democratic uprising. This seems to be far bigger.”
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) began a three-day ‘Satyagraha’ (peaceful movement) with a rally from the Latashil playground till Meghdoot Bhawan, the main post office, from where protesters were detained and taken away in buses.
They were later released, police said. People from all age groups and different parts of the city took part in the mass rally that was to culminate at the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Metro).
Instead, under heavy security presence, the protesters were rerouted and confined at the Dighalipukhuri Park in the city.
(Protesters being escorted by security forces.)
“This is the fourth time that I have been arrested — thrice before in 1983 during the Assam Agitation,” said a 57-year old woman from the Lachitnagar area.
Children were seen holding placards and banners that read, “Withdraw CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), “CAA Aami Namanu” (I don’t accept CAA) and “Joi Aai Asom”.
“The government should not resort to vote-bank politics. This Act will be hazardous for our economy, and a threat to the identity of Assamese people. The conglomeration of Bengali and Assamese customs, language and culture will create chaos in the Assamese society. This is the second time am participating in a stir, and I will continue to protest till the government withdraws the Act,” said Rocky Saikia, an 11th standard student of Don Bosco Senior Secondary School, Guwahati.
While a father and daughter came to the protest ground together, several senior citizens who were part of the Assam Agitation walked an incredible distance to take part in the Satyagraha march.
“We took part in the Eighties agitation, and glad to be arrested. We are fearless, and we are ready to give blood for our land,” said 76-year old Dulal Das.
People from all faith and ethnicities came together for Monday’s protest programme. With drums and cymbals, they once again made it clear that they would not accept the Citizenship Act.
Along the 3-km route, the ‘satyagrahis’ found support from lawyers, physicians, civil servants, members of the Assamese film and music industry and students of Cotton College who sat outside their institution with banners stating, “We want peace. No CAA.”
(Lawyers at the protest site in Guwahati.)
“Let them arrest us. Today, they will arrest a hundred, tomorrow they will have to arrest hundreds and thousands more. This protest will not stop. Our slogan is “Hoi CAA baatil korok – nohole amak geraftaar korok (Either withdraw Citizenship Act, or arrest us). We will fill up the jails,” said AASU Advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya.
Senior BJP leader and Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “We have nothing to do with peaceful protests. These protesters today wanted to get arrested, so we arrested them and set them free after 30 minutes.”
As the protesters were whisked away in a police bus, they sang the revolutionary song written by Assamese cultural icon Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala.
“Luitor Parore Ami Deka Lora
Moribole Bhoi Nai”
(“We are the youth from the banks of Luit
We do not fear death”)
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