This lower Assam town on Friday witnessed two massive rallies, one organised by the ruling BJP for “peace and development” amid tight security and the other by All Assam Students’ Union against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, just 500 metres apart.
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, his cabinet colleagues Himanta Biswa Sarma and Chandra Mohan Patowary and state BJP president Ranjeet Kumar Dass, were among the over 12,000 who participated in the rally, the ruling BJP’s first since the protests broke out on December 10, from Nalbari Guardon HS School ground to the SP’s office, 4km away.
Sonowal reiterated that Assam’s culture, identity and language would not be disturbed because of the act.
“Large number of overwhelmingly enthusiastic people joined @BJP4Assam Peace & Prosperity march at #Nalbari, led by HCM@sarbanandsonwal, Hon Ministers, MLAs, BJP President@RanjeetkrDass. I thank people for your continued faith in us. Your love keep us driving to achieve the best,” tweeted Sarma.
The AASU rally, held 500 metres from the BJP venue, was equally impressive, attracting over 10,000 peaceful protesters, mostly locals. The rally, which began around 10am, continued till 3pm, was organised by the AASU’s Nalbari unit, where singers and actors took the lead role.
If buses were used to ferry people to the BJP rally from adjoining areas like Hajo, Sualkuchi and Sorbhog, there were more locals at the AASU rally where the message was that people should be ready for a long haul. All shops and business establishments at Thana Chowk, Masjid Chowk and Bata Chowk were closed. Singers Babu Baruah, Ajoy Phukan and Mobile Theatre Producers’ Association president Bankim Rai Medhi denounced the Act.
Nalbari Hari Mandir secretary Nagen Deka claimed the BJP had allegedly hired people for its rally and the protest would continue till the act was repealed. Additional DGP (law and order) G.P. Singh tweeted, “Well done @nalbari_police Great leadership shown by the SP. Gratitude remains to people of Nalbari who stood by us today. @assampolice.”