After Anti-CAA Protests, Assam Limps Back To Normalcy

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Assam seems to be limping back to normalcy as the authorities lifted curfew in Guwahati on December 17th, 2019 and restored broadband services in entire Assam.

People were seen thronging the vegetable markets as the curfew was relaxed. Vehicles, which went off the road in the one week, were seen plying on the usual routes. Customers were seen rushing to ATMs and waiting in long queues to withdraw money.

“It is wise to stock up vegetables and other daily essentials as curfew has been relaxed. The prices of vegetables and fruits also came down a bit compared to the rates a few days before,” said H Das, a resident of Lalganesh, Guwahati.

At Ganeshguri market, locals were seen buying large stocks of vegetables, fruits and flowers and daily usage items.

A snapshot of the Ganeshguri market on December 17th, 2019.

Violent protests erupted in Assam after the Rajya Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on December 10th, 2019. The streets of the state turned into a veritable battle zone littered with burnt tyres, logs, stones, rubber pellets and teargas shells as protesters descended on the streets opposing the Bill.

On the December 10th, 2019, tens of thousands of seething protestors mainly students took to the streets, broke police barricades, and lit bonfires on GS Road road in Guwahati in protest against the Bill, prompting the administration to deploy the army and shutdown internet in 10 districts of the state.

By late evening hours, Guwahati resembled a war zone similar to the days of the Assam Agitation. The situation was turning uncontrollable as protesters started pouring in from all sides towards the Janata Bhawan, Dispur Last Gate. Defying curfew, people took to streets at night to protest against the Bill.

As people defied curfew to protest against the Bill, the Army conducted flag march in Guwahati on the morning of December 12th, 2019.

Police used water cannons, fired teargas shells and baton-charged protesters, who fought back. At least four people have been killed in police firing so far, while an oil tanker driver was charred to death when his vehicle was set on fire in Orang.

As many as 26 army columns have been deployed in Assam to assist the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) to handle the situation. However, as the situation in Assam was improving fast, the army personnel deployed in the state will return to the barracks within a couple of days, said Army Commander Lieutenant General Anil Chauhan on December 16th, 2019.

The curfew was also relaxed in Dibrugarh district from 6 am to 8 pm There is no official statement yet about resumption mobile internet service or lifting of curfew from other places.

Gana Satyagraha

On the other hand, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) on December 16th, 2019 launched a three-day mass satyagraha to protest the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), which was passed recently by the Upper House of the parliament.

AASU advisor Dr Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya, General Secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi and over 1,000 protesters were detained by Guwahati Police while they took out a protest rally against the CAA in Guwahati from Latasil playground. The protesters shouted slogans like Hoi CAA batil korok, nohole Aamak arrest korok (Either CAA should be scrapped or arrest us).

Akhil Gogoi

Peasant leader and RTI activist Akhil Gogoi who was arrested last week in Jorhat have been charged under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Under the new law, the Centre could designate the firebrand leader as a “terrorist” without giving him an opportunity to be heard.

According to The Print, he has been booked for “waging a war against the nation”, conspiracy and rioting in a fresh case registered by the NIA. Gogoi was arrested while he was participating in a protest against the newly enacted Citizenship Amendment Act.

Photo: @arpitadas

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