The police in Assam on Friday resorted to baton-charging All Assam Students’ Union activists, who took out a rally in Tezpur to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, reported NDTV.
The police also detained several activists of the union from across the state. AASU has condemned the police crackdown and announced a shutdown in the Sonitpur district on Saturday.
The activists were protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act by holding torch rallies. The students’ body had called for a three-day protest in the state against the CAA ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s and Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visits to Assam over this weekend.
On Friday, the police blocked a massive torch rally in Guwahati, according to PTI. Tension also prevailed in Sivasagar and Dhekiajuli cities, where smaller rallies were held.
The union leaders, including its chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya and president Dipanka Nath, also got into a heated argument with the police. “The government has directed the police to stop our peaceful, democratic, torch-light rally,” Nath alleged. “This BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] government is trying to snatch away our democratic right to protest by using force.”
Nath warned the Centre that the students’ body will intensify their agitation against the CAA ahead of Modi and Shah’s visit. “No rest until CAA is repealed by the government,” he added. AASU and various other student organisations have planned to greet the prime minister with black flags.
Bhattacharya also criticised the Assam government for blocking the “democratic and peaceful” torch rally. “Modi is coming to make false promises to Assamese people again before the assembly polls,” AASU general secretary Sankar Jyoti Baruah said. “We oppose the visit and Centre’s forcible enactment of CAA. We were carrying our peaceful protests, but the police restricted us from exercising our democratic right.”
Modi is scheduled to address a public rally at Jerenga Pathar in Sivasagar district on Saturday. He will distribute land allotment certificates to over 1,06,000 landless people.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, 2019, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, on the condition that they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. It has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. The act sparked huge protests across the country.