As New Year begins, the college and university students of Assam have taken a pledge to continue their protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act despite all odds. However, the peaceful uprising seems to be emotionally taxing for Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
On Wednesday, Sonowal said – “Muk eghoriya nokoribo – moi koloi jam?” ("Don’t ostracize me, where would I go?")
"I am your son, a part of you. You have chosen me to lead you, how can I let you down? I have never compromised with the interest of the people of Assam," he added.
Sonowal's comments come at a time when Assam sees widespread protests against the amended law and after former Assam DGP Harekrishna Deka criticized him, stating that he has turned into a 'hardcore Hinduist'.
"Assam CM laments –'What wrong have I done?' If he had searched his heart, he would have known that he has abandoned the secular spirit of the Assamese cultural tradition in the name of Hindu dharma. Assamese culture is very different. When Sonowal puts on the glasses of Hindutva, he does not see the demographic squeeze that has cornered the Assamese and other indigenous people. His present lens is a communal lens that does not see the predicament the CAA has brought over the socio-political fate of his own people," Deka had said.
Students of four Assam universities staged a two-hour demonstration against CAA in Guwahati, resolving to protest till the unpopular act is withdrawn. The students have also decided to protest against New Delhi’s apathy in dealing with the long-festering issues of the state.
"We have resolved to continue with our protest, and despite the state government trying to curb protests, we will not stop till the Citizenship Act is withdrawn. We will also demand constitutional safeguard as promised, ILP implementation in Assam, securing employment and land rights for the indigenous people," said Moon Talukdar, general secretary of Gauhati University Post-Graduate Students' Union.
"We will also protest against economic inequality. Our assets have been long exploited by the Central government, but they are indifferent to our problems. So, we have to be more self-sustainable. We will have to expand the range of opportunities from the roads to the fields. We will have to support our weavers and not buy machine-made Gamusas," the 23-year-old student leader added.
The state has been engulfed by a wave of anti-CAA demonstrations since last year, and the student fraternity has been taking the lead as hundreds of thousands continue to take to the streets.
On the first day of the year, anti-CAA protesters in Nalbari district waved black flags at Sonowal’s convoy as it passed through Nalbari-Sarthebari road. Police resorted to baton charge to disperse the crowd - members of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) were injured in clashes with police as two AJYCP members were taken into custody.
On the other hand, members of the Asom Sahitya Sabha staged a sit-in-demonstration in Guwahati wearing black masks, and reciting poems in protest against CAA. The BJP-led government in the state had announced a corpus fund of Rs 75 crore for 22 indigenous apex literary bodies including the Asom Sahitya Sabha and Bodo Sahitya Sabha.
"It is our resolution on New Year’s Day to carry forward this protest against the Citizenship Act, and we appeal to all to continue protesting in a logical and democratic way. The corpus fund announced for the Asom Sahitya Sabha was long due, and we will accept it because we deserve it – it is a public fund, but if the government thinks they can silence us with this, they are totally wrong. We will continue to oppose the CAA in every Sahitya Sabha event," said Asom Sahitya Sabha president Paramananda Rajbongshi.
The protesting university students have requested the literary body not to invite any political leader to the 75th biennial session of Asom Sahitya Sabha scheduled to be held next month. On Wednesday evening, the AASU organised a statewide candle lighting ceremony in memory of the five 'martyrs' of the anti-CAA agitation.
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Updated Date: Jan 02, 2020 16:42:19 IST