Mobile internet services were suspended in 10 districts of Assam – Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sibsagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup – till 7 pm on Thursday as the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill intensified in the state and other parts of the North East.
The protests forced the Army to send columns to Kanchanpur and Manu areas in North Tripura, and keep one on standby at Bongaigaon in Assam. Twenty paramilitary companies were being moved from Jammu and Kashmir to Assam, for which a special train was arranged, ANI reported.
In Guwahati, visuals showed protestors burning billboards with pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, flying in from Tezpur, was stranded at the Guwahati airport for hours because of the protests. Tyres were burned and logs were placed on roads and railway tracks to stop vehicular and train movement across the state, said unidentified police officials.
The Sonowal government took the decision to suspend mobile internet to stop the spread of rumours even as the Upper House of Parliament prepared to vote on the contentious draft law. Groups in the North East fear that once the bill is passed, populations defined as indigenous to the region will be culturally and physically swamped by migrants.