Guwahati: Organisations across Assam are planning to renew protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, in the wake of the Narendra Modi government’s decision to withdraw the three contentious farm laws.
Several outfits in Assam, from the All Assam Students Union (AASU) to political parties like the Assam Jatiya Parishad (AJP) and the Raijor Dal, have expressed their intention to restart the agitation. These organisations had been at the forefront of the anti-CAA movement when it started in December 2019, following the promulgation of the Act.
The Act allows for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to seek Indian citizenship.
“The Modi government’s withdrawal of the farm laws proved that injustice was there and it is only due to the farmers’ movement that they’ve been compelled to withdraw the laws,” Samujjal Bhattacharya, chief adviser to the AASU, told ThePrint. “People of the Northeast are determined to fight till it is repealed…. How we will carry this forward, the strategy will be decided.”
Protests around Swahid Diwas, 2nd anniversary
Leaders of the anti-CAA outfits have indicated that protests and rallies are being planned in the days between 10 December and 12 December, which would mark the second anniversary of Parliament passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
“From 10 December onwards, which marks Swahid Diwas, we are planning for an agitation against the implementation of the CAA,” said Lurinjyoti Gogoi, president of the AJP, which was formed in the aftermath of the anti-CAA protests by leaders of the AASU and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP).
Swahid Diwas (martyr’s day), is observed on 10 December every year in the state to commemorate people who died during the Assam agitation between 1979 and 1985.
When asked about the nature of the agitation, Gogoi said the AJP will first “educate the common people” against the Act. “We are firmly determined against this type of law… After the imposition of the CAA, we have seen its consequences. We are against this kind of communal move. Already, the demography of Assam has changed due to the influx of foreigners,” he said.
Deben Tamuli, chief coordinator of the Coordination Committee Against Citizenship Amendment Act — an umbrella committee of various organisations including the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Liberal Democratic Party, among others — also said that a rally is being planned on 12 December.
“The committee is planning to intensify our struggle on 12 December, we are planning to hold a demonstration-cum-protest on that day,” he said.
‘Public angry with organisers’
AASU had, in early 2020, announced a “temporary break” in the anti-CAA stir in view of the Class 10 board exams. The movement, which had suffered a setback due to then-KMSS adviser Akhil Gogoi’s arrest in December 2019 under the UAPA, amid anti-CAA violence in Assam. The movement rapidly lost momentum by the time the Covid-19 pandemic gripped the country.
Gogoi, now the Raijor Dal chief, was later cleared by a National Investigation Agency (NIA) court of all charges in July 2021.
However, Bhattacharya said, “The movement had been on. It is only because of examinations and Covid that it has slowed down. But the movement has been on.”
According to KMSS secretary Mukut Deka, the movement “has weakened a bit” and there is a need “to reorganise”. “A lot of the organisations were with the government,” he claimed. “The government had bought out their leadership.”
When asked about public sentiment about the CAA, Deka said, “The public had come out on the roads to protest this. There is public sentiment, but the organisers have not been as active. So the people are also angry with the organisations.”
‘Leaders, intellectuals, artists compromised’
Lurinjyoti Gogoi of the AJP claimed that there is a “propaganda campaign”, as a result of which “common people are confused”.
“The leaders have compromised on the issue, artists and intellectuals have compromised in this matter. The common people are confused about this issue. [But] what is right is right, it is a threat to the common people, we have to educate them,” he said. “In Assam, we have a long history of movement. We believe that it will work.”
“All people, all students’ organisations should participate. It is an issue of the common people of Assam. All should be represented and lead the movement,” he added.
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)