Women perform naam prasanga during a demonstration against the citizenship act in Demow on Saturday. Picture by UB Photos
Age was no bar as women, some accompanied by their children, came out across Assam on Saturday to unitedly oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Most women, sporting gamosas, raised their hands in unison, reaffirming their resolve to fight the law. They also sang Bhupen Hazarika’s Manuhe manuhar babe (people for people) in protest against CAA.
Slogans like “Joi Aai Axom (glory to Assam)” and “CAA aami namanu” (I will not accept CAA)” rent the air as the protesters demanded that the government roll back the “contentious law”.
Jamuna Bala Dutta, 86, said: “We will oppose CAA because we have burdened ourselves with illegal migrants for too long. Will they impose everybody on Assam? We will ensure scrapping of the act even if we have to sacrifice our lives. We have come out because we must protect our future generations. The government must scrap the Act. They must listen to the Assamese people.”
Similar protests were also held in Sivasagar, Dibrugarh, Moran, Demow, Tinsukia, Kaliabor and Dhemaji, among others.
In the city, apart from the rally organised by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and others at Latasil field, the Guwahati Women’s Collective also organised a protest meeting.
Carrying placards, hundreds of protesters marched from Guwahati Club to Dighalipukhuri.
Some of the slogans on the placards read, “No to Hindu Rashtra”, “Long Live Revolution”, “Repeal CAA”, “Women Resist in Black”, “Uphold our constitutional rights”, “You can fool some people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time”, “No CAA”, “Release Akhil Gogoi”, “CAB will make the locals minority” and “CAB will destroy the language, culture”.
Sahitya Akademi awardee Nirupama Borgohain said, “We will never allow the plan to convert our secular country into a Hindu Rashtra.”
Another protester, Pooja Nirala, said the act has violated the Assam Accord, which sets the cut-off of March 24, 1971, for detection and deportation of illegal immigrants. According to the amended citizenship law, persecuted non-Muslims who entered India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, will be eligible for citizenship.
“The way people have come out spontaneously in protest speaks volumes of the pain they are suffering owing to the imposition of the amended citizenship law,” said Anindita Deka, another protester.
AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath told The Telegraph that the Narendra Modi-led BJP government had damaged Assam more than the earlier Congress government. “Through the Assam Accord we have on behalf of the country already taken the burden of illegal foreigners on our small state. Because of CAA now, we cannot take the additional burden till December 2014 The Assam government has failed to understand the emotion and sentiments of Assamese people, who are vehemently opposing the act. The government has surrendered to the Centre but the people of Assam will not accept CAA under any circumstances,” Nath said.
AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya said the government was misleading the people by “bringing up the Clause 6 issue, which is a must, but has no relation to CAA”.
“All clauses of the Assam Accord are its soul. Clause 5 seeks detection and deportation of illegal immigrants. Everyone who came after March 24, 1971, must be deported according to the Accord,” he said.
“The women have added an extraordinary strength to the anti-CAA movement. The overwhelming participation of women in the anti-CAA movement is exemplary,” he added.
The AASU will organise grassroots meetings on December 24, 26 and 28 as well as padayatras (marches) and cycle rallies to connect with the masses on the Act.
More than 500 members of Assam Mayamora Samaj took out a procession, accompanied by gayans-bayans, from Ajanta hall bypass to Gar-Ali and back in Jorhat in protest against the Act.
A large number of women also protested in front of the deputy commissioner’s office as well as block offices in Jorhat district.
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) and the All India Trade Union Congress took out a protest rally against the Act in Hojai town on Saturday afternoon. They also demanded immediate release of KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi.
Additional reporting by Devajit Baruah in Jorhat and Nikhil Kumar Mundra in Hojai