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Monday, February 17, 2020

CAB protests: Guwahati under curfew for third day; residents stock up on essential items

While most shops remained shut, pharmacies remained open till late afternoon. Autos and rickshaws were plying in most parts of the city.

Written by Tora Agarwala | Guwahati | Updated: December 13, 2019 10:36:08 pm
The AASU said they will carry on protests during the day over the next week. (Express Photo)

As Guwahati witnessed the third day of curfew in light of the prevailing unrest because of the Citizenship Bill protests, early Friday morning saw residents come out on to the street to stock up on essential items such as medicine and food. Citizenship Amendment Bill protests LIVE updates

While most shops remained shut, pharmacies remained open till late afternoon. Autos and rickshaws were plying in most parts of the city. “We are preparing for the next few days and stocking up on milk, eggs and bread,” said a young girl at Chandmari. The area, although featuring remnants of the previous night’s clashes — including destroyed dividers, heaps of ash etc — was abuzz with people.

Chandmari’s Assam Engineering Field was also the location where thousands attended a ten-hour-long hunger strike organised by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU). The crowd cut across demography, with children, youngsters, as well as senior citizens attending the protest. The hunger strike began at 6 am and ended at 4 pm.

During the protests, many artistes from the Assamese community delivered speeches, harking back to the years of protest during the Assam Agitation of 1979 to 1985. Artistes such as Zubeen Garg, actors Jatin Bora, Barsha Rani Bishaya, Moloya Goswami were present. Sudakshina Sharma, sister of Bharat Ratna Bhupen Hazarika, who is in her eighties sang a song. The crowd was singing, chanting slogans, most prominent of them being the catchphrases of the Assam Agitation — “Joi Aai Axom (Hail Mother Assam).

“I have been actively participating in all the protests,” said actor Bishaya. “What is happening here today is a violation of democracy. Does the central government think we are fools? We will never ever accept the CAB under any circumstance.”

READ | Citizenship Act protests: Assam remains tense, violence spillover to Bengal

The AASU said they will carry on protests during the day over the next week. “Our protest will be non violent and disciplined. We will not accept the CAB at any cost. The government might say they will give us Clause Six – but we will not be fooled this time. Clause Six may happen, but our protests will stop only when the entire state is exempted from the CAB. We are also appealing to the people not to resort to violence,” said AASU chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya.

Towards the evening, the roads were empty and devoid of violence and vandalism — but still with heavy security presence. The Curfew is still on. Internet remains suspended.

The police have confirmed two deaths in alleged clashes, including a minor — 17-year-old musician, Sam Stafford died at Hatigaon during clashes. The other is 21-year-old Dipanjal Das, who worked at the Sainik Bhavan Canteen. Das, who hails from Kamrup District, died during a clash between the police and protestors in Ulubari. The Guwahati Medical College and Hospital has confirmed 26 injured, 11 discharged and 2 dead, as of 7 pm Friday.

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