Thousands continued to protest in Upper Assam on Tuesday in response to the call by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and 30 allied organisations not to accept the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
In Dibrugarh town, over 50,000 people, mostly wearing traditional attire and donn-ing gamosas, gathered at Chowkidinghee field. They raised slogans against the Act and the BJP for its alleged effort to incite and entice.
Addressing the gathering, former president of Asam Sahitya Sabha, Nagen Saikia, said, “The political representatives of Assam have forgotten their people and the Assamese community. But we must continue this agitation against CAA, through protests, the courts and, if required, politically.”
AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said the indigenous people of Assam will not live as second-class citizens. “The Centre has forcefully imposed the CAA on Assam without the consent of its people. Anti-CAA protests will continue till the law is scrapped,” he thundered.
Chiding the government for allegedly provoking the people, he said, “Cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma wanted to know (before the bill became an act) where is the protest? Then the Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) says one can identify the protesters from their attire. These provocations have only galvanised the people. The government’s attempt to suppress/dilute the protests by offering sops has also not worked. Nothing can stop this protest except withdrawal of CAA.”
In Tezpur town in Sonitpur district, around 20,000 people gathered at Church Field.
Addressing the gathering, North East Students’ Organisation (Neso) chairman Samuel Jyrwa pushed for implementation of inner-line permit (ILP) in the region. He said had the government been honest in dealing with the problem of infiltration, they should have made the region a foreigner-free zone by implementing ILP instead of focusing on bringing in Hindu Bangladeshis through the CAA.
AASU adviser Sammujjal Bhattacharjya said the government had recently announced a slew of projects to dilute the peoples’ movement but “it cannot divert our revolutionary people as are motivated to save their land, dignity, heritage, language and culture.”
AASU president Dipanka Nath said the Modi government was misleading and creating confusion among the people. “They want to keep Bangladeshis who entered India till December 2014 using the CAA when the Assam Accord wants foreigners who came after March 24, 1971 deported. The BJP government is highlighting useless things to dilute the agitation. We warn the government that if they do not scrap the CAA, AASU will intensify its movement,” he said.
Singer Zubeen Garg said since existing political parties have betrayed the people of the state, the latter should think of an alternative. He, however, clarified that he would never enter politics.
Sadou Asam Karmachari Parishad president Bashab Chandra Kalita joined the anti-CAA protest at Tezpur.
In Golaghat district, over 20,000 people converged on the outskirts of Dergaon town, which is located between Tezpur and Dibrugarh. Speaking at the venue, singer Bipin Chaodang said, “The government has announced a one-time grant of Rs 50,000 for each singer. I announce double the amount to the government for withdrawing the CAA. Enticement will not work. CAA has to go.”
AASU’s Golaghat district adviser Mridul Saikia also spoke against CAA.
In Guwahati, anti-CAA protests were organised by the teachers and students of Gauhati University in Jalukbari and the students of three colleges in Maligaon.
Artists will assemble at Latasil playground here on Wednesday and register their protest with brush and colours.
Additional reporting by our correspondent in Tezpur