A ‘Black Day’ was observed across the Northeast on Saturday following a strike call by North East Students’ Organisation, an umbrella body of student groups in the region, to protest against the crackdown on those demonstrating against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Tripura and Manipur this week.
Sporadic demonstrations continued in parts of Assam and a shutdown was observed in Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) on Saturday. Black flags were raised by student bodies across the region, including at the headquarters of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) in Guwahati.
A sedition complaint was lodged against Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma over alleged communal remarks.
AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said, “Black Day was observed as a mark of protest against four incidents: the police crackdown on protesters in Tripura, police attacking an ambulance carrying the injured in Tripura that day, disallowing the NESO leadership to visit injured students at a hospital in Khumulwng in Tripura yesterday and police firing tear gas shells on protesters in Manipur yesterday.”
Several organisations had protested against the Bill in Imphal on Friday, following which police fired tear gas shells. West Imphal SP Jogeshchandra Haobijam said that at least two people were injured in police action and were discharged after first aid. “Everything is calm as of today,” Haobijam said.
In Tripura, Upendra Debbarma, advisor to Twipra Students’ Federation and vice-chairman of NESO, said, “Today has been peaceful and a highly successful strike.” In Assam’s Silchar, authorities at Assam University on Saturday imposed restrictions on protests on campus without prior approval. This come a day after BJP leader Pradip Dutta threatened Assamese-speaking students of Barak Valley to bar their admission in the university. Dutta took back his comments later after drawing sharp criticism.
Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti activists lodged a complaint of sedition against Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma at Laluk police station in Lakhimpur district. A senior police officer said, “They have given the complaint saying the minister made controversial communal statements. A case has not been registered yet. We have to investigate…”