Internet services suspension extended till Monday; Meghalaya CM demands ILP, to pass resolution soon.
Guwahati: After three days of violent protests in Assam over the Citizenship Act, the situation returned to normalcy in the capital city of Guwahati, even as upper Assam districts like Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Jorhat continued to remain tense with sporadic violence reported from different parts Saturday.
Curfew was relaxed for seven hours in Guwahati after which it was re-clamped at about 4 pm. Admitting that there was no report of violence from any part of Guwahati since Friday, security sources said that vehicles were burnt and mobs indulged in vandalising public property at various places in upper Assam.
Earlier on Saturday morning when curfew was lifted, people came out in large numbers and most shops and business establishments opened their shutters as crowds gathered at vegetable markets and grocery shops.
However, suspension of internet services was extended till Monday as security agencies felt that the same might be misused to spread rumours on WhatsApp and social media.
The state administration on Saturday also deployed troops of the Indian Army along national highways where hundreds of trucks were stranded.
The north-east has witnessed angry demonstrations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which fast-tracks naturalisation for non-Muslim minority refugees who have faced religious persecution in Bangladesh – which borders several north-eastern states. The indigenous peoples of the north-east are concerned that the law endangers their language, identity and livelihood.
Pointing out that the decision of the AASU to suspend their agitation during the night will help security forces in segregating protestors from hooligans, security sources said that there was no report of violence from any part of the capital city where security forces arrested nearly 20 miscreants who came from neighbouring districts to join the protest which turned violent on Thursday. Although senior police officers were tight-lipped, security agencies suspected some conspiracy behind the protest against the Citizenship Act turning violent in Assam.
In a related development, the Leader of the Opposition in the Assam Assembly Debabrata Sai-kia; MP Abdul Khaleque; and MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi on Friday moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship Act.
Amendment Act 2019 through advocate Syed Burhanur Rahman and advocate Pyoli. The matter will be mentioned for urgent listing in the Supreme Court on Monday.
Meanwhile, the Northeast Frontier Railway on Saturday pressed into service special passenger trains on some routes to help stranded passengers, as on Thursday, at least nine trains to and from Dibrugarh were cancelled or terminated due to agitations against the amended Citizenship Act. Three trains including the Rajdhani Express from Dibrugarh to New Delhi were cancelled while six trains including the Brahmaputra Mail from Delhi to Dibrugarh were partially cancelled.
While Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh have been kept out of the amended Citizenship Act, the Naga Students Federation, too, observed a six-hour complete shutdown of Nagaland while the Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union on Friday boycotted examinations to join the protest in Itanagar and express their solidarity with the demand for scrapping of the controversial act.
Eight columns of the Army and Assam Rifles have been requisitioned and deployed to help the civil administration, which, security sources claimed, is facing a shortage of forces.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma who met Union home minister Amit Shah, demanded an inner line permit for Meghalaya as well. Referring to the ongoing agitation against the amended Citizenship Act in the state, Mr Sangma is believed to have insisted that the Centre look into the grievances. Sources said that Mr Sangma would convene a special session of the state Assembly soon to pass a resolution asking the central government to implement ILP in Meghalaya, a la Manipur.
The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday expressed concerns about India’s amended citizenship law, describing it as "fundamentally discriminatory" in nature.