Amid violent protests over Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 in Assam, an indefinite curfew was imposed in Guwahati on Wednesday evening. The curfew that was earlier imposed from 6.15 pm on Wednesday till 7 am on Thursday has now been extended till an indefinite period. Guwahati police commissioner Deepak Kumar said, "Curfew has been imposed in Guwahati (Assam) since 6:15 pm today. It will remain imposed until normalcy is restored here."
The United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) has announced a shutdown in Assam on Thursday. A bus was torched by protesters, near Janta Bhawan in Dispur. Two columns of Army which were on standby at Bongaigaon and Dibrugarh have been rushed to Guwahati after the situation escalated. Both the columns have been deployed in Guwahati.
The Bill seeks to give citizenship to refugees from the Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zoroastrian communities fleeing religious persecution from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh.
The Indian Railways has cancelled 12 trains and partially cancelled 10 trains on December 12-13 due to the indefinite 'Rail Roko' by various organisations and associations, in Tinsukia division and Lumding division in Assam. The Dibrugarh District Magistrate has ordered the closure of liquor licensed premises from 4 pm on Wednesday for 'preservation of public peace and tranquillity'.
The state government has already suspended internet services for the next 24 hours, starting from 7 pm on Wednesday. The ban is being imposed over 10 districts of Assam, including Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup. Meanwhile, curfew has been imposed in Guwahati after massive protests triggered at several places in the city.
Earlier, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was stranded for two hours in the Guwahati airport where agitators gathered in large numbers to protest against the CAB. He was later safely escorted out under high security. The move on the ban of the internet in Assam follows after the Tripura government's decision to ban the internet and SMS services for 48-hour, on Tuesday (December 11), to prevent mischief mongers from spreading rumours.
Thousands of protesters against the Bill descended on the streets of Assam since Monday (December 9), clashing with police and plunging the state into chaos. Although no party or student body has called a shutdown, protesters, a majority of the students, fought pitched battles with security forces in the restive state, including in front of the Secretariat.
The government has deployed tight security at several places to avoid any public danger. Three Army columns have been requisitioned by the civil administration. Earlier in the day, Assam Police resorted to lathi-charge on protesters in Dibrugarh, while they were demonstrating against the bill. The action was taken by the Assam police after the protestors blocked an ambulance even after the police issued a warning.
Earlier, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said the Centre has listened to the concerns of the people of the northeast about the Bill. "Home Minister has discussed and listened to the voice of the people of the northeast. The concerns of the indigenous people of the northeast region are being addressed thoroughly," he said while speaking to media in New Delhi. "I must thank honourable Prime Minister and Home Minister Amit Shah Ji for understanding and taking in confidence the wishes of the northeastern region."
The Union Minister stated that the northeast has been given full protection under the Citizenship Amendment Bill and slammed the opposition for creating a ruckus in Parliament over the Bill.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill aims to amend the six-decade-old Citizenship Act and provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The cut-off date for getting citizenship under the bill is December 31, 2014. It was passed in Lok Sabha on Monday (December 9) with a majority of 311 votes against 80 votes where 391 members were present and voting. At noon on Wednesday, it was tabled in the Rajya Sabha by Home Minister Amit Shah.