Assam sees fresh protests against CAA after four years

After a hiatus of four years, local organizations in Assam reignited demonstrations against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) on Thursday. This resurgence follows Union Home Minister...

After a hiatus of four years, local organizations in Assam reignited demonstrations against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) on Thursday. This resurgence follows Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent declaration that the CAA rules would be enforced ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

The CAA aims to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, and Parsis entering India on or before December 31, 2014, from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan after residing here for five years.

Utpal Sarma, president of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), opposed the CAA, asserting, “The Assamese people will never accept the CAA, and we will continue our democratic and legal fight against the Centre’s attempt to impose it on us.”

Assam braces for another wave of protests against the CAA, with a coalition of 16 political parties and approximately 30 NGOs announcing a series of agitations. Anti-CAA activities are slated to commence with motorcycle rallies in every district headquarters, culminating in the burning of the CAA rules upon notification. Additionally, AASU-led NGOs plan to stage a 12-hour hunger strike on March 9 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state.

Prime Minister Modi’s upcoming two-day visit to Assam from March 8 includes engagements such as a jungle safari in Kaziranga National Park, the unveiling of a 125-foot statue of 17th-century Ahom general Lachit Borphukan, and the initiation of various projects.

Opposition gathers momentum for renewed protestsĀ 

The United Opposition Forum Assam, comprising 16 parties and led by Congress, has threatened a mass agitation against the CAA. Members of the forum met Assam Governor Gulab Chand Kataria, submitting a memorandum addressed to President Droupadi Murmu, urging the Centre to refrain from imposing the CAA on Assam.

State Congress president Bhupen Kumar Borah emphasised Assam’s existing burden of foreign residents, stating, “We cannot take any more. We shall seek an appointment with the Prime Minister to discuss the issue and resort to agitation if the Centre persists with implementing the CAA.”

Ten activists of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and its student wing, Satra Mukti Sangram Samiti (SMSS), were detained across Dhubri, Tinsukia, and Hailakandi districts on Thursday.

The AASU and 30 other organisations have declared a series of protests commencing on March 4 against the central government’s actions, with more anticipated to join the movement.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma asserted on Thursday that protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) hold no significance at this juncture, suggesting that those opposed to the law seek recourse through the Supreme Court for its repeal.

During a press conference, Sarma stated that Parliament’s enactment of the law does not render it supreme, as the apex court holds authority over it and possesses the capability to nullify any legislation, similar to its actions concerning electoral bonds. He emphasised, “Protests against the CAA are irrelevant, as agitation cannot alter the fate of an Act passed by Parliament. Change can only be effected through the Supreme Court, akin to its annulment of the electoral bonds introduced by the BJP.”

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