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News18 » Politics
4-min read

As Anti-CAB Protests Rock Northeast, Congress Says Situation Similar to J&K, Slams BJP

The opposition party also accused the BJP of 'insulting, ignoring and forgetting the northeast' and alleged 'this level of outrage has been provoked' by the ruling party.


Updated:December 12, 2019, 8:51 PM IST
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As Anti-CAB Protests Rock Northeast, Congress Says Situation Similar to J&K, Slams BJP
Representative image.

New Delhi: Amid violent protests in Assam and elsewhere in the northeast against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), the Congress on Thursday said the situation in the region was "extremely disturbing", and what was happening there was a repeat of Jammu and Kashmir.

The opposition party also accused the BJP of "insulting, ignoring and forgetting the northeast" and alleged "this level of outrage has been provoked" by the ruling party.

The Congress said that these protests, which, according to officials, claimed at least two lives in Assam on Thursday, are "spontaneous" and are not linked to any political party. The Congress also accused the government of asking the media not to show the "real picture" in the northeast.

Speaking to the media here, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad reiterated his assertion that the CAB passed by Parliament is unconstitutional.

The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha said the Congress has been trying to highlight that the bill "violated" constitutional provisions and the government was "suppressing" the voice of people from the northeast.

Congress spokesperson Gaurav Gogoi slammed the government for pushing the bill through in a hurry.

"Why didn't the government show much more caution before passing the Bill in Rajya Sabha. This arrogance is what is provoking the people of Assam and the northeast India...people are not slave. This is an elected government -- of the people, for the people and by the people. But it seems that BJP has insulted the northeast, has ignored the northeast, has forgotten the northeast," he alleged.

The protests against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill intensified in Assam on Thursday as thousands of people defied curfew in Guwahati and took to the streets, prompting police to open fire. The agitators claimed that at least four persons were injured in the shooting.

Officials said two people died as suspension of internet services in 10 districts of the state was extended for another 48 hours, beginning 12 pm, to prevent "misuse" of social media in disturbing peace and tranquility, and to maintain law and order.

"These are spontaneous public outbursts. And now instead of adopting a conciliatory approach, the army is being sent, internet is being banned and it has come to our notice that the Government of India is sending a circular to channels discouraging them from showing the real picture in the northeast and in Assam," Gogoi told reporters.

"The situation in Assam right now is extremely disturbing. The protest in Guwahati is far worse than what we have witnessed in the last two days. Many have said that it is unprecedented and for the last 20-25 years this level of public outrage and anger on the streets has not been seen," Gogoi said.

Gogoi said the local media has reported incidents of firing at several places in Guwahati. "What I have been told by the local media there (Guwahati) that they can see fire burning, they can see teargas being shelled at almost every nook and corner of the city."

Meanwhile, asked about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assurance earlier in the day to the people of Assam, the epicentre of the anti-CAB protests, that their culture and rights would not be affected, Ghulam Nabi Azad said assurances don't really matter when people are being "killed".

"By imposing Section 144 (restricting assembly of four or more people), curfew and ordering lathicharge, and not allowing people to speak their mind out, you are killing them. Do assurances really matter in such circumstances? It is same as what has happened with the people of Jammu and Kashmir. What is happening in the northeastern states is a repeat of what has happened in J&K," he told reporters here.

"The entire northeast is burning," he said. "There is not even a single state in the northeast which is not burning. We wanted to say this. And the government's claim that they have given some concession to the northeast is wrong as it has not given any concessions."

He said the situation in the entire country is very bad, be it the central or southern part, or even Delhi. "And there is a lot of voice raised against this bill."

"Almost 80-90 per cent of the people are against this bill. They (the govt) have got this bill passed on the basis of numbers," he claimed.

Azad said every religion and caste is equal. "So you cannot make any law on the basis of a particular religion. This law is being made for one particular religion. What we are saying is it is against the Constitution and thus is unconstitutional."

He also made a demand that the land of tribals be protected in Leh and Kargil under the 6th Schedule.

"Normally, the land of tribals in northeast is protected. But, the land of scheduled tribes is not protected in Leh, Kargil and Ladakh," he said.

Gogoi said that despite the curfew, people in Guwahati have come out in their protest against the bill. "While we understand the outrage and sentiments of the people, this makes us extremely concerned. We are worried about harm done to any individual and private or public property.

"We express concern, but, at the same time, we understand that this level of outrage has been provoked by the BJP. What was the urgency (to pass the Bill in Rajya Sabha) when you saw the people of northeast protesting after Lok Sabha passed it?"

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