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Protesters Clash With Forces in Assam, Train Services Hit as Northeast Erupts Against Citizenship Bill

Indigenous people of the Northeastern states fear that the entry of non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan will endanger their identity and livelihood.


Updated:December 10, 2019, 3:24 PM IST
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Protesters Clash With Forces in Assam, Train Services Hit as Northeast Erupts Against Citizenship Bill
Protests in Tinsukia against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

Guwahati: Normal life came to a halt on Tuesday in Assam’s Brahmaputra Valley due to a state-wide bandh called by two students' organisations in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment)Bill, which has received Lok Sabha nod.

The 11-hour shutdown, called by the All Assam Students' Union and the North East Students' Organisation — an apex body of student unions in the region — however, failed to evoke much impact on Bengali-dominated Barak Valley.

In Maligaon area of the city, a government-run bus was pelted with stones and a scooter set on fire, sources said. Shops, markets and business establishments kept shutters down, while educational and financial institutions remained closed for the day, the official sources stated.

Huge processions were taken out in different areas of Guwahati, with protesters raising slogans against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Agitatators had a scuffle with security forces near the Secretariat and Assembly buildings in Guwahati, when they were prevented from moving forward, police sources said.

Train services across Assam were affected as picketers squatted on tracks, a spokesperson of the Railways said. Some had also attempted to block the entrance to NF Railway headquarters here and Divisional Railway Manager's office at Rangia in Kamrup district, he said.

Vehicles - both private and public - stayed off the roads, the official sources said, adding that government-run Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) buses plied between Guwahati city and the LGB airport here, with police escort. All scheduled examinations were rescheduled by the universities in view of the bandh.

In Dibrugarh district, bandh supporters clashed with CISF personnel. Three of them sustained injuries as they tried to prevent the workers of Oil India Ltd (OIL) from entering office at Duliajan area.

Protesters burnt tyres and blocked national highways to stop movement of vehicles in various parts of Assam. Students of Gauhati University and Cotton University in Guwahati, along with those of Assam Agriculture University in Jorhat, took to the streets, seeking immediate withdrawal of the legislation.

The bandh, which began at 5am on Tuesday will be observed till 4pm and security has been beefed up in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura. Nagaland has been exempted from the purview of the bandh in view of the ongoing Hornbill Festival there.

The Manipur People Against CAB (Manpac), which was spearheading the agitation in the state, had announced suspension of its stir on Monday, after Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the to be brought under Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, piloted by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, was comfortably passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday night as the ruling BJP enjoys a clear majority in the House.

The Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees, who escaped religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The legislation was passed by 311-80 votes in the Lower House of the Parliament.

Indigenous people of the Northeastern states fear that the entry of these people will endanger their identity and livelihood.

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