As the All Assam Students Union (AASU) on Friday night took out torchlight processions as a mark of protest against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah visit, Police lathicharged on them, as per local media reports. In Guwahati, police barricaded the AASU headquarters ”Swahid Bhawan” and did not allow the protesters to move out with torchlights, but the students” body staged their protest behind the barriers. The police detained several AASU activists in Tezpur. The protesters shouted slogans against Modi, Shah and Sonowal and demanded that the CAA and EIA be repealed along with the implementation of the report of the Clause Six Committee.
AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya and president Dipanka Kumar Nath were seen engaged in a heated argument with police officers, who said the rally would be allowed if they handed over the torchlights. He was particularly critical of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was the president of the AASU when Bhattacharya was its general secretary, for sending police to quell the protest. “It was from Swahid Bhawan that Sonowal reached the chief minister”s office and now he is sending force to stop democratic and peaceful protests. This is shameful and we condemn this,” he said.
“The constitutional safeguard under Clause 6 of Assam Accord is our democratic right and not any charity by the prime minister or the home minister. Our protests will continue till these demands are fulfilled,” the AASU leader asserted.
AASU will stage protests in all district and sub-divisional headquarters by covering their faces with a black cloth during Modi’s visit on Saturday, and observe ”Black Day” on January 24 by burning copies of the CAA during the home minister’s visit.
The NRC exercise and the CAA have been opposed in Assam and AASU alleges that the Central government has violated the Clause 6 of Assam Accord – which guarantees constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards to protect, preserve and promote the culture, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
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Assam Assembly Elections
The election to the 126-member Assam assembly is likely to be held in March-April 2021 where BJP eyes to retain the state. Assam witnessed massive protests against the CAA-NRC-NPR, as Assamese people fear a massive inrush of migrants which will threaten their indigenous culture – violating the Assam accords. The BJP is yet to convince the state subjects of the merits of CAA, after the disastrous NRC drive which resulted in the exclusion of 19 lakh citizens.
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BJP and its stance on CAA
On December 6, senior BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is likely to be implemented from January next year. Vijayvargiya added that the Centre is keen to grant citizenship to the large refugee population in the state. He also accused the ruling Trinamool Congress government of not being sympathetic to the cause of the refugees.
However, on December 20, Home Minister Amit Shah said that the rules of CAA are yet to be framed and the law will be acted upon after COVID vaccine inoculation is done. “Rules of CAA are yet to be framed. Due to Coronavirus, such a massive drive cannot be undertaken and hence after inoculation, we will think about it,” said Shah. When asked about his ‘understand the chronology’ remark, Shah said, “Let the first part of the chronology be fulfilled”.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain and Parsi communities who came to the country from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014. The Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill on December 11, 2019, and President Ram Nath Kovind gave assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on December 12.
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