Bora wants Brahmaputra Valley off law’s purview; curfew back.
Guwahati: The All Assam Students’ Union, which has been protesting against the amended Citizenship Act, on Sunday hinted at launching a political party along with the “Shilpi Samaj” (artists’ forum) as an alternative to the ruling BJP and AGP as well as to the Opposition Congress. AASU president Dipanka Nath, addressing a protest meet “Concert for Peace and Harmony” here, backed popular actor Zubeen Garg’s proposal of launching a political party.
“We are in talks with the Silpi Samaj and discussing with the people of Assam to think of an alternative. With your (people’s) permission, we will not hesitate one bit to go in that direction (launching a party).”
The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which is a BJP ally and a part of the Assam government, meanwhile, appears to be in two minds on challenging the new law in the Supreme Court. While party leader Kumar Deepak Das and some others said on Sunday that they would move a petition in the Supreme Court, party president Atul Bora, who is a minister in the Sarbananda Sonowal government, said the party was yet to decide on the matter. “We have not yet decided. We are discussing the issue. Some of our friends will go to Delhi,” he told reporters. Meanwhile, the situation in Assam was relatively normal on Sunday as no untoward incident was reported from anywhere. However, the curfew, that was relaxed in the morning, was reimposed at 6 pm in Guwahati and parts of Upper Assam.
The death toll in Thursday’s firing by the police rose to four on Sunday, with one protester succumbing to his injuries at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital.
The Assam Sahitya Sabha, the state’s premier literary organisation, said Sunday it would move the Supreme Court for revocation of the amended Citizenship Act. It also demanded the release of all arrested persons, including KMSS chief Akhil Gogoi, exercising their constitutional right to protest, its chief Parmananda Rajbongshi said.
Earlier in the day, Mr Kumar Deepak Das, a former Rajya Sabha MP, said the AGP respected the wishes of the people, who feared the law might threaten their identity and existence. “We will take the legal route to seek revocation of the amended act as the indigenous people of Assam are apprehensive that their identity, language might come under threat,” he said. Sources said a AGP delegation led by Mr Das would leave for New Delhi on Sunday evening to file the plea in the Supreme Court as PILs seeking revocation of the law were due to be taken up for hearing on December 18.
Mr Bora has also said that the Brahmaputra Valley, where violent protests have been taking place, should be excluded from the purview of the law. Addressing a press conference, Mr Bora said as the law has been passed already, at least the Brahmaputra Valley should be excluded and it may be implemented in the Barak Valley. The Barak Valley, with a significant Bengali population, has not seen any major agitation.
AGP leader and Assam minister Keshab Mahanta said the party has not given up its “old stand” of opposing the contentious law. “Though we are part of the NDA, our stand has not changed. We still do not want this law to be implemented in Assam and the Northeast,” he said.