Assam Sunday saw parallel demonstrations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in different parts of the state, with music as the predominant medium of protest.
Capital Guwahati saw a massive turnout at the ‘Concert for Peace and Harmony’ organised by the artiste community of Assam. ‘Save Assam’ was the clarion call, as several artistes, including Assamese musician Zubeen Garg, actor Barsha Rani Bishaya and Nishita Goswami, took to the stage to address a crowd that swelled to thousands.
“This is the first time that artistes have come together like this to protest. And we must stand united. Right now this is all we can do: protest. Five young people have died,” said Garg.
The crowd cut across age groups. “Internet is cut off, there’s a curfew. The government wants to clamp down on us, but we won’t let that happen,” said Rashmi Rekha Saikia, a protestor. Saikia said 50 of them were “walking peacefully and shouting slogans” at the Hatigaon locality earlier in the day when the police prevented them from proceeding further. “We were told we needed permission,” she said, “That’s why we ended up coming here to the artiste protest.” Talking to reporters, ADGP GP Singh said since the city was under Section 144, democratic group protests needed prior permission from the police.
Also present were a group of 15 painters who said they were trying to “express their opposition through art. “We are trying to show how angry we are through our art,” said Mintu Deka an artist who was working on a huge 6 ft by 4 ft canvas. “Artists are sensitive people. In my painting, I am trying to show the natural beauty of Assam — I have used a lot of red in the middle to show how outside forces are trying to destroy it.”
Another artist was creating a piece of artwork by picking up remnants of burning ash and charcoal from the violence that took place in police-protestor clashes on December 11 and 12.
Another protest was organised by the Left Democratic Manch (LDM) — an association of 11 political parties. The protest, which took place at the District Library, also featured music, speeches by intellectual Hiren Gohain and musical performances by octogenarian musician Sudakshina Sharma.
A sense of normalcy returned to Guwahati on Sunday. The death toll in the protests so far has reached five. Internet services continue to be suspended.
From Monday, All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) will start a 3-day ‘satyagraha’ in Guwahati’s Latasil. “We will march to the DC’s office and will ask them to either repeal CAA or arrest us,” said AASU general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi.