Agitators clashed with the police, gheraoed Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s house at his native place in Dibrugarh, blocked national highways and damaged vehicles in Assam during an 11-hour “bandh” called by the AASU to protest against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) activists clashed with the police when they attempted to ransack a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) office in Dibrugarh, prompting the security forces to resort to lathicharge and fire rubber bullets to disperse the protestors.
The AASU has called for a statewide “bandh” and it is being supported by the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which withdrew support to the BJP-led government in Assam on Monday.
Opposition Congress, the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) are also supporting the bandh.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 aims to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to grant Indian citizenship to those Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before December 31, 2014.
Normal life was hit in the Brahmaputra valley and was partially affected in the Barak valley due to a “north-east bandh” called separately by the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), an umbrella organisation of students’ bodies in the region, of which the AASU is a constituent.
The “bandh” called by the NESO on the same issue is being supported by over 100 organisations in Assam as well as in the other north-eastern states.
The protesters blocked roads and national highways by burning tyres and smashed the windshields of trucks, cars and autorickshaws at many places, including in Guwahati, the police said.
Shops, markets, banks and other financial institutions kept their shutters down, educational institutions, private offices remained closed and private vehicles including long-distance buses kept off the roads in the Brahmaputra valley, the police and official sources said.
The “bandh” has hit normal life in Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland, according to reports from these states.