Radhika puts a black spot on her eight-month-old son Anshuman’s forehead to ward off the evil eye but cannot stop worrying about his future with the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in force.
“We lost our land to erosion by the Brahmaputra. Anshuman’s father, a fishmonger, struggles to make ends meet. Now we are hearing that CAA will give shelter to lakhs of Bangladeshi immigrants. What will happen to Anshuman and our grandchildren?” Radhika asked.
The CAA weighing heavy on their minds, thousands thronged Kordoiguri High School playground, 15km from Doomdooma and 39km from Tinsukia town in Upper Assam on Friday, hoping that the protest rally, organised by the All Assam Students’ Union’s Tinsukia unit and Assam Moran Sabha’s Talap-Kordoiguri regional committee and supported by several organisations and locals, might help solve the problem.
Women with little children, poor farmers, school and college students, unemployed youths, flood victims, the landless and the homeless were among those who participated in the rally. Hundreds of activists of the Assam Tea Tribes Students Association also took part in the protest against the law that “threatens all the communities of Assam.”
Protests held across Tinsukia — at Kordoiguri, Sadiya, Phillobari, Kailashpur and Kakopathar — during the day highlighted the long-pending problems of the rural inhabitants of the district — flood, erosion, loss of land, education, unemployment, roads and electricity, among others.
AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi, after meeting flood victims living in camps near Kaitia Primary School, said, “Indigenous landless farmers must be given land. It is shameful to see the pitiable condition of the indigenous people here. Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal should come here to see how people are living in inhabitable conditions for the last 28 years, how the students are struggling to study. The government is unable to protect the fundamental rights of its own people and wants to bring CAA. The Act will never be accepted.” Hundreds were rendered homeless in Sadiya subdivision in the 1992 floods.
Addressing the rally, Harekanta Mahanta, xatradhikar of Mayamara Dwarka Xatra, Kakopathar, alleged that the government was oblivious to xatras’ problems such as erosion but had brought in CAA which might lead to domination by other languages and cultures. “We will have to protest until CAA is scrapped,” he added.
All Moran Students’ Union general secretary Nabo Moran, said the government was apathetic to problems like floods, erosion, unemployment, poverty and education but enthusiastic about CAA which “is a great danger to our identity”. The rally was also addressed by leaders of Assam Moran Sabha, Moran Jatiya Mahila Parishad and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad.