Agitating protesters defied prohibitory orders in Guwahati on Thursday and hit the streets against the Citizen (Amendment) Bill (CAB), even as the situation remained tense across the state, with troops being deployed in the worst-hit areas.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to assure the citizens of Assam that they have nothing to worry about regarding the legislation.
I want to assure my brothers and sisters in Assam that they have nothing to worry about after the passing of #CAB.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 12, 2019
I want to assure them- no one can take away your rights, unique identity and beautiful culture. It will continue to flourish and grow.
Modi added that the federal government was committed to protecting the rights of Assamese people.
The Central Government and I are totally committed to constitutionally safeguard the political, linguistic, cultural and land rights of the Assamese people as per the spirit of Clause 6.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 12, 2019
The protests have also affected scheduled flights to Assam, with airline companies taking to twitter to announce cancellations.
Due to prevailing situation in Assam, flights to/from Dibrugarh are cancelled for today (12th Dec, 2019). Please visit Plan B https://t.co/DSSJqiVQRK to choose an alternate flight or get a refund. For assistance, contact us on Twitter/Facebook. https://t.co/ATa9FupUaB— IndiGo (@IndiGo6E) December 12, 2019
Kolkata Airport Official: All flights have been cancelled from Kolkata (West Bengal) to Dibrugarh sector (Assam).— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2019
Meanwhile, the All Assam Students’ Union has called for a protest at 1100 Hrs IST on Thursday. The government has suspended internet for 24 hours in 10 districts of Assam till Thursday. The army has conducted a flag march – a practice to improve the difficult law and order situation in Guwahati on Thursday.
Five Army Columns have been requisitioned for deployment in Assam, while three columns of the paramilitary Assam Rifles have been deployed in the neighbouring State of Tripura.
Am told, the authority asks people of Dibrugarh in Upper Assam not to come out of their homes. Announcement by loudspeakers. Local journalists say, they are hearing sounds of firing. (Possibly blank firing)— Shantanu N Sharma (@shantanunandan2) December 12, 2019
Situation in Upper Assam yesterday night was worse than that in Guwahati
Assam, very painfully slowly, was recovering from 2.5 decades of unrest from 1979. Things were becoming a bit normal. Now, the wisdom of our Leadership failed to understand the complexities of Assamese cultural fabric. The decision to impose CAB is the most unwise ever.— Adil hussain (@_AdilHussain) December 11, 2019
The protesters argued that that the influx of immigrants from other countries, especially neighbouring Bangladesh, would reduce them to ethnic minorities in their own states.
Following a six-hour debate, the CAB was passed in the upper house of the Indian Parliament Rajya Sabha on Thursday. The legislation will now require presidential approval before it becomes a law.
The proposed legislation seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim minorities persecuted in the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. The bill was furiously contested by the opposition parties, which termed it “discriminatory” towards Muslims and insisted that it violated the principles of the Indian Constitution.
However, Federal Home Minister Amit Shah assured Parliament on Wednesday that the Bill was not against the Muslims in India and that they have nothing to fear.
Meanwhile, the ongoing agitation might also cast a shadow on a proposed summit between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Premier Shinzō Abe from Dec 15-17. Though not officially announced, there were indications that it would be held in Guwahati.