Tonsure protest over NRL privatisation
Protests erupted across the district on Monday over the proposed disinvestment of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) with Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL), a subsidiary, that holds 61.65 per cent of share of BPCL, being privatised.
As a mark of protest, 10 members of the Oikya Sena Asom’s (OSA) Golaghat district committee tonsured their heads in front of the main gate of NRL and staged a three-hour demonstration.
“NRL was set up to improve the socio-economic status of the people of the Northeast. At the time when we have great expectation that NRL would help mitigate the economic plight of the region, the Centre’s proposed move to hand over the refinery to private entities is unacceptable,” said Tofik Ahmed, chief secretary of the OSA’s Golaghat district committee. Activists of the All Assam Students Union also staged a sit-in in front of NRL’s marketing terminal.
Nearly 500 students from various educational institutes gathered under the AASU’s Golaghat banner. The protesters shouted slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and criticised them for their alleged conspiracy to disinvest NRL.
“NRL is not just any other refinery. It was set up as per the norms of the Assam Accord of 1985, which was signed following the six-year Assam Agitation where 855 youths were martyred. Thus, NRL is a part of emotions of the region’s people,” said Monowar Hussain, AASU’s assistant general secretary. “It is shocking and ridiculous that our chief minister is unaware of NRL’s disinvestment,” he added.
“We urge the Prime Minister to do the needful to keep NRL as a public sector unit. We also demand the process of the refinery’s capacity expansion from 3 million metric tonnes per annum to 9 MMT per annum be continued,” Hussain said. AASU and OSA submitted memoranda to the Prime Minister through Golaghat deputy commissioner Dhirendranath Hazarika.