Dressed in traditional mekhela sador, 78-year-old Putuli Kalita, who had taken part in the Assam Movement was among thousands of protesters arrested by the Assam government on Monday for leading a march against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
“I feel good that they arrested me. Anything for my motherland. Back in the 1980s, we were part of such a democratic uprising. This seems to be far bigger,” Kalita said.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) launched a three-day satyagraha with a rally from the Latashil playground till Meghdoot Bhawan, the main post office, from where protesters were arrested by police and taken away in buses. They were later released, police said.
People from all age groups and different parts of the city took part in the march that was to culminate at the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (Metro). Instead, under heavy security presence, the protesters were rerouted and confined at the Dighalipukhuri Park in Guwahati.
“This is the fourth time that I have been arrested,” said a 57-year old woman from Lachitnagar area. “Thrice before in 1983 during the Assam Agitation.” Children were seen holding placards and banners that read “Withdraw Citizenship Amendment Act, “CAA Aami Namanu” and “Joi Aai Asom”.
“The government should not resort to vote bank politics. This Act will be hazardous for our economy, and a threat to the identity of Assamese people. The conglomeration of Bengali and Assamese customs, language and culture will create chaos in Assamese society. This is the second time I am participating, and I will continue to protest till the government withdraws the Act,” said Rocky Saikia, a Class 11 student of Don Bosco Senior Secondary School, Guwahati.
While a father and daughter came to the protest ground together, several senior citizens who were part of the Assam Agitation walked in the march. “We took part in the 1980s agitation, and glad to be arrested. We are fearless, and ready to give blood for our land,” said 76-year old Dulal Das.
People of all faiths and ethnicities came together. With drums and cymbals, the Assamese once again made it clear that they will not accept the Citizenship Act. Along the three-kilometre route, the protesters found support from lawyers, physicians, civil servants, members of the Assamese film and music industry and students of Cotton College who sat outside their institution with banners stating “We want peace. No CAA.”
“Let them arrest us,” said AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya. “Today, they will arrest a hundred. Tomorrow they will have to arrest hundreds and thousands more. This protest will not stop. Our slogan is “Hoi CAA baatil korok – nohole amak geraftaar korok (either withdraw Citizenship Act, or arrest us). We will fill up the jails.”
Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma remarked, “We have no objection to peaceful protests. These protesters wanted to get arrested, so we arrested them and set them free after 30 minutes.” As the protesters were whisked away in police buses, they sang the revolutionary song written by Assamese cultural icon Rupkonwar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala: Luitor Parore Ami Deka Lora Moribole Bhoi Nai (we are the youth from the banks of Luit. We do not fear death).
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Updated Date: Dec 16, 2019 22:43:21 IST