With mobile Internet suspended here for the past eight days, protesters have been spewing their anger and resentment against the highly emotive Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), now an Act, on public walls and gamosas.
Rajya Sabha had passed the bill on December 11 completing the legislative process for giving Indian citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, plunging Assam into chaos, as violent protests erupted across the state.
Guwahati, being the epicentre of the agitation, witnessed protests, marches and countless bonfires that lit up in the streets till December 12 night, bringing the bustling city to a standstill.
Seeking to check the spread of rumours and maintain law and order, the authorities had clamped indefinite curfew in Guwahati and suspended Internet connection in 10 districts, including Kamrup (metro) on December 11 evening. Guwahati falls in Kamrup (metro) district.
As people could not take to social media to vent their ire, many people who opposed the bill spray-painted “anti-CAB” and “anti-BJP” messages on walls in prominent places and inner areas to register their protest, residents said.
While curfew was lifted on Tuesday morning, mobile Internet services are still suspended, even as peaceful protests against CAA, led by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) continued at various public squares.
On prominent Md Tyabullah Road skirting the famous Dighalipukhuri, an entire stretch of walls of private homes, commercial ventures or quarters of Cotton University Professors’ Colony, seems like a giant protest scroll with “No CAB” splattered all over it.
“We Assamese totally oppose the bill, and now want the Act to be revoked. Mobile Internet has been shut since December 11 evening. People also express their sentiments and resentment on social media. But, I guess, these public walls are symbols of protest now,” said Chinmoy Deka, an Assamese youth, who often visits Dighalipukhuri, a popular hangout in Guwahati.
The area also neighbours Gauhati High Court and the sprawling Latasil playground, one of the main venues of the ongoing protests, and one can see and feel the heightened sense of resentment of people against this legislation.
While “NO CAB” in giant English or Assamese letters remains the dominant message painted on walls in black or crimson, across the city, slogans against the BJP government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, home minister Amit Shah and Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal also have been painted at many places in Guwahati since the protests began.
So, slogans like “Modi hai hai, Sonowal hai hai” can be seen on walls located on GS Road, surrounded by “No CAB” wordings, painted before the bill became an Act — CAA — after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent on December 13.
On walls facing the serene Dighalipukuri and other places, the anger of people against the Centre and state government is unmistakable, while a sense of Assamese pride symbolised in the cry of “Jai Ai Ahom” (Hail Mother Assam) punctuate the protest scrolls on walls.
On the walls next to Md Tyabullah Road, some slogans painted by protesters read “Modi=Hitler” or “India is Not N-Korea”.