Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday blamed each others’ parties for deaths of people in Assam during protests. Both the leaders were addressing election rallies in the northeastern state.

Shah targeted the Congress for killings during the Assam agitation against immigrants from Bangladesh between 1979 and 1985. The Congress was in power in the state during that period. He also attacked the Congress for allying with All India United Democratic Front leader Badruddin Ajmal.

“The Congress party shot dead hundreds of youths during the Assam agitation held under the leadership of [BJP’s ally] Asom Gana Parishad,” Shah said at a rally in Bijni town. “Today, the same Congress party is piggybacking on Badruddin Ajmal. What right does Congress have to seek votes in this state after opening fire at young people.”

Referring to Congress, the home minister said that a party which has allied with Ajmal will not be able to stop infiltration into the state. “Can Ajmal be Assam’s identity instead of personalities like Srimanta Sankardev, Bhupen Hazarika and Upendra Nath Brahma?” Shah asked people. “Congress may try but we will not allow Assam’s identity to change.”

Meanwhile, speaking at a rally in Chaygaon in Kamrup district, Congress leader Gandhi referred to Dipanjal Das, the first of the five persons killed in police firing at anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in December 2019, the Hindustan Times reported.

“Dipanjal was an idea and truly representative of what Assam is,” Gandhi said. “It was not as if one youth was shot at, it felt as if the police had fired upon Assam and its people. It was an attempt to murder Assam. I am beginning my speech with Dipanjal, as I feel it’s the most important issue.”

The Congress leader said that the BJP could not provide Das the job he deserved and then was shot dead by the government while protesting peacefully for Assam. He asserted that the Congress will not allow the implementation of CAA in the state and reiterated the five “guarantees” stated by the party in its manifesto.

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.

The second phase of Assam polls will take place on April 1, while the third and final phase is scheduled on April 6.