New Delhi: The indefinite curfew and internet shutdown in Assam did little to stymie the protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was passed by the Rajya Sabha on December 11.
Defying curfew in response to calls by All Assam Students’ Union and farmers’ body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, protesters came out on the streets of Guwahati on Thursday to protest against the Bill.
Five columns of the Army have been requistioned and deployed in Assam, an Army statement said. On Thursday, the Army conducted flag marches in Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Jorhat and Tinsukia.
In Lalungaonn area of Guwahati, police opened fire to disperse protesters, allegedly injuring many.
The officer claimed that the protesters hurled stones and bricks at the policemen and when attempts to pacify them did not deter the mob, the security personnel opened fire at them.
The officer did not specify the number of people injured in the firing, though the protestors claimed that at least four were injured.
In Ambori area, Assam BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma’s effigy was burnt. BJP leader Jatin Bora has reportedly resigned from the party amidst the protests.
Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has appealed to people to maintain peace, saying that the “Centre is committed towards implementing the Clause 6 of Assam Accord in letter and spirit.”
Assam CM Sarbananada Sonowal: I sincerely appeal to all sections of people of Assam to maintain peace & tranquility. It’s our cultural, social&spiritual tradition. I’ve firm belief that people of Assam, as usual, will maintain peace for all time to come. #CitizenshipAmendmentBill https://t.co/W8X7TFxnXN pic.twitter.com/5Ly8HXeiI9
— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2019
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that attempts to “fuel tension in the northeast” are being made by the Congress.
#WATCH PM Modi on #CitizenshipAmendmentBill2019: There’re attempts to fuel tensions in Northeast, don’t be misled by Congress. Assure every state of East & Northeast. The traditions, culture, language etc of Assam&other states won’t be affected. pic.twitter.com/AUnkXXGEqK
— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2019
Meanwhile, the suspension of internet services in ten districts of Assam was extended for 48 hours on Thursday, beginning at 12 pm, to prevent “misuse” of social media to disturb peace and tranquility, and to maintain law and order, officials said.
Internet services will remain suspended in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup, additional chief secretary (home and police department), Sanjay Krishna, told PTI.
Internet services were suspended at 7 pm on Wednesday.
Railways has suspended all passenger train services in Tripura and Assam and short-terminated long distance trains to the region to Guwahati, Northeast Frontier Railway spokesperson Subhanan Chanda said, adding many passengers are stranded in Kamakhya and Guwahati.
A railway station in Dibrugarh’s Chabua, the hometown of Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal, was set on fire by protestors late Wednesday night. The Panitola railway station in Tinsukia district was also torched. Twelve companies of the Railway Protection Special Force (RPSF) have been dispatched to the region, PTI reported.
Hundreds of passengers remained stranded in the airport as transport options across Guwahati and Assam appeared slim amidst the protests and curfew.
The Guwahati police commissioner and a senior officer responsible for law and order in the state were both removed amid the violent protests in a major reshuffle.
Munna Prasad Gupta has been appointed in place of city police chief Deepak Kumar. Gupta was earlier posted in the Special Protection Group.
Additional director general of police (law and order) Mukesh Agarwal was transferred as ADGP (CID) and GP Singh was given his charge.
Day four proceedings of the Ranji match between Assam and the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) along with the ISL clash between NorthEast United FC and Chennaiyin FC were called off at Guwahati.
“The Ranji Trophy match in Guwahati stops at where it ended on Day 3,” BCCI general manager of cricket operations Saba Karim told PTI.
“We have been advised by the state association not to go ahead with the game. Players and match officials have been advised to remain in the hotel. At this stage, the safety of the players and match officials is paramount,” he said.
The ISL game was slated to be played at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium in the city.
“Due to the ongoing unrest in Guwahati, match 37 between NorthEast United FC and Chennaiyin FC has been postponed until further notice,” the ISL said in a statement on Thursday.
(With PTI inputs)