Class boycott, anti-BJP calls in Assam protest

Class boycott, anti-BJP calls in Assam protest

Protesters clash with the police in Guwahati on Wednesday. Manash Das/DH PHOTO

College students boycotted classes, activists clashed with the police and a group of intellectuals appealed to people to defeat BJP in the ensuing Lok Sabha polls, on the second day of protests in Assam against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Police caned protesters who tried to storm into the state secretariat compound here on Wednesday afternoon. The protest was led by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and 70 other organsations that are agitating against the bill.

The Northeast erupted in protests on Tuesday after the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha that day and was placed in the Rajya Sabha.

Students of the 118-year-old Cotton College (now Cotton University) here locked the main gate, boycotted classes and sat on a hunger strike in protest against the bill.

"We will not attend classes till the bill is withdrawn. The bill is destructive to our identity, culture and language as the Assamese because Bangladeshis will take away our jobs and our land," said a student of the reputed Cotton College.

The bill seeks to offer citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Sikhs who had migrated from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan due to "religious persecution", after a stay of six years. The required term of stay before the passing of the bill was 12 years.

Many organisations in Assam and rest of the Northeast are opposed to the bill saying this would make the "large Hindu illegal migrants" already living in Assam Indian citizens.

They fear the move will reduce them into a minority and nullify the Assam Accord of 1985. The accord promised to detect, delete and deport illegal migrants by updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), with March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date.

A group of Assamese intellectuals, led by social scientist Hiren Gohain, issued a public appeal urging people to defeat the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls to foil its "communal agenda".

"The bill is contrary to the secular fabric of our Constitution as it seeks to give citizenship on religious lines. This is what we feared before the 2016 Assembly elections and urged people not to vote for BJP. Our fear has turned out to be a reality now and it is time for all of us to defeat them in the Lok Sabha elections," Gohain said here.

BJP is bent on its commitment to the Hindus saying passage of the bill would ensure 17 Assembly constituencies in Assam from being taken over by the All India United Democratic Front led by Maulana Badruddin Ajmal.

Three ministers of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), an ally of the BJP-led Assam government submitted their resignations on Wednesday, two days after the regional party pulled out of the alliance.

Organisations in the Bengali-Hindu dominated Barak Valley, comprising three districts in South Assam, however, celebrated as it would allow many "persecution victims" to get Indian citizenship.