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‘Keep the Momentum Going’: Students, Locals across Northeast Continue to Protest against Citizenship Act

In Assam, protesters have adopted the rallying cry - 'CAA Aami Namanu' (We will not accept the Citizenship Act) - the spirit of the protests remain strong as the turnout continues to be high.

Karishma Hasnat | CNN-News18

Updated:December 18, 2019, 11:16 PM IST
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‘Keep the Momentum Going’: Students, Locals across Northeast Continue to Protest against Citizenship Act
People participate in a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Nehrubali in Nagaon, Assam, Wednesday, December 18, 2019. (Image: PTI)

Guwahati: From Assam and Manipur to Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, people across Northeast have taken to the streets - in non-violent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and they have vowed to continue with their efforts till the unpopular legislation is withdrawn by the government.

Despite no government response to the demands, students across the region continue to protest, with full support from their teachers, senior citizens, intellectuals, civil society organizations and the general public.

In Guwahati, people are familiar with the protest venues – the Latashil playground, Chandmari field and the Gauhati University campus apart from several other locations.

“Students are protesting because the Act is unconstitutional and against the Assam Accord. We are protesting for democracy and secularism. We are not encouraging any violence, but the violence that took place during protests is a design of the state so that curfew could be imposed. The students were marching peacefully, but when we returned to our hostels – we saw violence breaking out. Nobody from our fraternity resorted to violent means,” said Rahul Gautam Sharma, a history student of Cotton University, adding that the students are “not against the state, but the Citizenship Act”.

“There is a lurking threat, we have come to know that our phone calls are being tapped. They are keeping an eye on us, but they will not find a way to arrest us,” alleged Sharma, adding, “We stand by the constitution and the Assam Accord. Democratic protests would continue to keep the momentum going.”

The students from different institutes are now planning a door-to-door campaign against the Act in remote villages of Assam. On Wednesday, the students from four Assam Universities held an anti-CAA demonstration - “Satrokontho” (Student Voice) at the Gauhati University campus.

“Students have come out independently, not under any political group or organization. I am an ABVP national executive member, and I am here for my motherland, to protect the Assamese identity. Anyone in ABVP, BJP or RSS sharing this sentiment should come out – no one should sell one’s conscience to any organization. I have no problem if they take any action against me,” said Moon Talukdar, general secretary of Gauhati University Post-Graduate Students' Union.

Similar is the scene in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh – raising “Azadi” slogans, students and locals took out a peaceful march in Itanagar today against the Citizenship Act – the protest was in support of Misso Nobin, a student of Rajiv Gandhi University who is on an indefinite hunger strike at the university campus since Monday.

Support also poured in from Manipuri women folk who took to the streets on Tuesday, forming a human chain, and chanting anti-government slogans. Protesters in Imphal carried placards that read, “Northeast will fight CAB together”, “Exempt CAB from NE”, “No CAB in NE or no NE in India” (The Citizenship Amendment Bill is now a law).

“We, the Manipuris, will reignite again. Northeast is a single ship where we are all on board. If there is a lacuna, we will sink together. So, we have to face this and protect our region together – as one Northeast,” said Khuraijam Athouba, the spokesperson of the North East Forum for Indigenous People (NEFIP), a conglomerate of different organizations from the seven northeastern states.

In Assam, protesters have adopted the rallying cry - “CAA Aami Namanu” (We will not accept the Citizenship Act) - the spirit of the protests remain strong, as the turnout continues to be high.

The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) announced a series of protests on the third day of the mass Satyagraha movement that witnessed an overwhelming participation of people from all ages and all faiths. The AASU with support from 30 ethic organizations, the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and the Sadou Asam Karmachari Parishad (SAKP) is planning to organize awareness camps in villages across the state.

“The harvest season is over, so people from the villages can now give time to the movement. We will organize foot marches and cycle rallies in every village of Assam. And till we reach our aim, we won’t stop. The government first tried to dominate us – 5 people lost their lives. Now, they have started appeasement politics – to lure the youth and the artistes of Assam who are protesting vigorously. The government is also trying to create a divide between Upper and Lower Assam,” said AASU general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi.

The womenfolk of Assam are expected to take part in anti-CAA demonstrations across the state on Saturday, announced AASU.

“The women of Assam are behind the success of the Assam Movement, and they will now be part of the greater agitation against Citizenship Act. Our protests would be peaceful and non-violent. The students would study alongside protests, the artistes would continue to create and inspire, and also protest,” said AASU Advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya.

Meanwhile, mass arrests have been made in Assam - till Tuesday, 329 people were arrested and over 2000 others detained for their alleged involvement in violence. However, Assam police said many youngsters have been released and their parents were counselled.

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