Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said on Thursday that he will not allow foreigners to settle in the state. At a press conference that he shared on Facebook, the BJP leader said that as a “son of the soil” of Assam, he would never allow a foreign immigrant to settle in his land.

He added: “No foreign immigrant can come to Assam as a result of the Citizenship Amendment Act, nor shall we let them come in. By no means can the Act affect the demography of Assam.”

Sonowal said that the erstwhile Congress government in the state had ignored the clauses of the Assam Accord. “This government is well aware of Clause 6 of the [1985] Assam Accord and would ensure constitutional safeguards for indigenous people of Assam,” the chief minister said.

On Wednesday, Sonowal said that his government has sent its suggestions to the Centre on the rules of implementing the Citizenship Amendment Act in Assam, PTI reported. “People should have no doubt or confusion in their mind regarding this law,” he said. “We have many plans regarding protection of their interests and on this first day of the new year, I want to assure all sons of the soil that they are completely secure and there is no power that can endanger their existence.”

Sonowal added that the state will implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. Clause 6 of the accord says that “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.” A high-level state government committee is preparing a report to recommend suggestions for the implementation of Clause 6 of the accord in Assam.

Protestors wave black flags at Sonowal

Sonowal’s remarks on both Wednesday and Thursday came in the background of renewed protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Assam. Activists of the All Assam Students’ Union and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad on Wednesday waved black flags at Sonowal while his convoy was passing through Nalbari and Barpeta districts, PTI reported. Sonowal was on his way to the ashram of religious preacher Krishnaguru in Barpeta.

The protestors shouted anti-Citizenship Act and anti-government slogans. At Solmara, the police resorted to baton-charge to drive away the demonstrators. While the police described it as a “mild” action, All Assam Students’ Union Organising Secretary Himan Barman said it was a “brutal attack”. “AASU activist Sandan Bezbaruah is critically injured and is now undergoing treatment at a hospital in Nalbari,” he added.

The police also detained Asom Jatiyabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad leaders Hemen Kalita and Dhiraj Kalita from Solmara.

The chief minister faced black flags for a third time at Sarukhetri in Barpeta by protesters who also played traditional musical instruments.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, leading to protests against it. At least 26 people have died so far in the protests, which have turned violent at times.

Five people have died in Assam, which was the initial epicentre of the protests, when the police opened fire on protestors on December 17. Curfew was imposed across the state and internet services were shut for almost ten days. On Wednesday, Assam Tourism Development Corporation Chairperson Jayanta Malla Baruah said the tourism industry in the state has suffered an estimated loss of Rs 1,000 crore because of the protests.