Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) continued in Assam on Wednesday, hand in hand with the countrywide strike called by several trade unions, with the AJYCP questioning chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s claim of providing “corruption-free, foreigner-free, terrorism-free and pollution-free Assam”.
“The chief minister keeps on saying that his government is trying to free Assam from corruption, foreigners and pollution. I want to ask what is CAA? Isn’t it a ploy to get in illegal migrants from Bangladesh? He talks about fighting corruption. Then why was the T20 match at ACA stadium abandoned? Will he look into where the huge amount of funds, reportedly Rs 50 crore, goes? Will he order an inquiry? He talks about terrorism-free Assam. We want to ask who is fanning terror? Security personnel killed five innocent protesters. We want the CAA to go, we want this government to go,” Palash Changmai, the general secretary of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), told a rally in Nagaon district in central Assam.
While poking holes in Sonowal’s oft-repeated claims of good governance, Changmai also said that CAA threatens the language and culture of the state by facilitating citizenship on religious lines to illegal migrants from three neighbouring countries who entered India before 2015.
The AJYCP is at the forefront of the anti-CAA movement in Assam along with the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and citizens’ groups.
In Dhemaji district in Upper Assam, anti-CAA protesters waved black flags at the convoy of state cultural affairs minister Naba Kumar Doley. Some miscreants reportedly stopped and partially damaged the vehicle Bihpuria MLA Debananda Hazarika was travelling in on his way to a peace rally organised by the BJP in the district.
Around a thousand protesters staged a protest against CAA at Muttock tea estate in Lahowal in Upper Assam in Dibrugarh district. The protesters, dressed in traditional attires, held placards and sang devotional songs.
Addressing the gathering, KMSS anchalik secretary Rajiv Gogoi demanded scrapping of the Act and unconditional release of their leader Akhil Gogoi. He accused chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma of betraying the people of Assam.
Jugal Baruah, who recently resigned from Chabua BJP, said the government was functioning in a dictatorial manner and demand CAA withdrawal.
At a protest organised by the AJYCP and AASU at Goreswar in Baksa district in lower Assam, people shouted slogans, recited poems and sang songs against CAA. They vowed not to accept the Act.
In Guwahati, protests were held at Beltola, Sonapur, Narengi, Chachal and Khanapara. The Beltola unit of AASU and the local residents organised an anti-CAA protest in response to a call by the AASU’s central unit and 30 other organisations representing indigenous communities.
In a statement, AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath said along with 30 organisations and the artiste community they would organise ronsinga, a protest by playing various instruments, across Assam on Thursday. In Guwahati, the protest will be organised near Gauhati Club.
“The protest will be held at public places in the district headquarters and sub-divisions from 11am. People can play any instrument, including the traditional ones, during the protest,” Nath said.
Additional reporting by Avik Chakraborty in Dibrugarh