The much-awaited harvest festival of Assam, Magh Bihu is here and this year, the festival is being used by the people of the state to register a protest against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Spearheaded by the All Assam Students’ Union, several organisations and civil bodies have staged protests in parts of the state against the citizenship act on January 14th, 2020. The AASU and other students’ bodies have appealed to the people of Assam to burn the copies of the Act in the mejis (bonfire) on uruka, the eve of Magh Bihu.
The students’ union of Cotton University too appealed to the people to burn copies of CAA in the mejis. “Today is uruka. Following the tradition, we will celebrate Magh Bihu but our protest against the Act will continue,” said a KMSS activist.
On the other hand, posters and banners against the citizenship act have been put up at the open fields where people will light meji, erect bhelaghor (makeshift huts) and take part in community feasting.
Anti-CAA posters were also visible at marketplaces where vendors are selling Bihu foodstuffs and other items. “The people of Assam will celebrate Bihu and also continue to against the CAA. While lighting the meji, we will burn the copies of the Act and pray the Fire God to protect Assam,” said a local vendor.
A resident of Uzan Bazar in Guwahati said, “We all wait for the Bhogali Bihu as it a festival of feasting and bonfires. However, it will be a low key affair this year owing to our resentment against CAA.”
Though the protests against the CAA completed more than a month in Assam, the rage refuses to die. The protests over the CAA began in the state in the first week of December 2019, much before the rest of the country.
Ever since the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on December 11th, 2019, every day, a well-attended anti-CAA rally or demonstration is witnessed in almost all the districts of the state.
The Union Home Ministry has issued a notification stating that the provisions of the Act will come into force from January 10th, 2020. However, the Centre is yet to frame rules for the Act. Those who are opposed to the legislation say that the CAA violates the Assam Accord and is against the basic tenets of the country’s constitution.
Photo: Biju Gohain