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Citizenship Law protest, Assam: 200 held for violence, Himanta says curfew off, internet on from today

On Monday, demonstrations, protests involving cultural events and rallies were held across the state in a peaceful manner. No incident of violence was reported.

Written by Abhishek Saha | Guwahati |
Updated: December 17, 2019 7:36:29 am
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Nearly 200 people have been arrested for alleged involvement in last week’s incidents of vandalism and arson in Assam, which has claimed five lives, the state government said on Monday.

Curfew was lifted during the day in Guwahati, and by Monday evening state minister and senior BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sama stated that Assam government has decided to lift curfew “completely” from Tuesday, including night curfew. “Broad band internet connectivity will also stand restored from tomorrow,” Sarma tweeted.

On Monday, demonstrations, protests involving cultural events and rallies were held across the state in a peaceful manner. No incident of violence was reported.

Earlier in the day, Sarma said the government does not want to curb democratic and peaceful protests and urged protesters to follow the path of non-violence.

He said: “Peaceful protests will be taken care of by a political process, through a process of reaching out.. We have no problem with democratic protests, but let us not resort to violence.”

Sarma also exuded hope that the Centre will reach out to “peaceful” demonstrators at some point. “The police have registered 136 cases in the state in connection with last week’s violence; 190 people have been arrested as of now,” he told reporters. He said the number of arrests can go up, and that the state government has taken “very seriously” the violence which unfolded on the streets of Guwahati on December 10 and 11 and plans to investigate it through a high-level inquiry.

Read | In U-turn, BJP ally AGP says will go to apex court over Citizenship Act

On Monday, hundreds of demonstrators led by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) began a three-day ‘satyagraha’, following which they courted arrest, and were soon released. AASU leaders told the media that Tuesday and Wednesday will see similar ‘satyagraha’ movement and spoke about the power of a “peaceful, democratic” fight against the new law.

In Guwahati, curfew remained relaxed until 9 pm, while the ban on internet services, except BSNL broadband connections, was extended to Tuesday evening.

Sarma said the government has focussed on two instances of violence last week: vandalism at Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra, a cultural centre in Guwahati, and that in front of Assam Secretariat in the city. “Clearly we have witnessed a pattern” on these two and that the “mob” in Guwahati’s Hatigaon, a Muslim-majority area, was a “different pattern”, the minister said.

In the incident at Kalakshetra, Sarma said the government has clear indication of involvement of 24 people. He identified several individuals arrested in Guwahati. Explaining why he identified them, Sarma said only a few of these people arrested for incidents in Guwahati — on the spot and on the basis video footage — are residents of the city. “The number of those who had come from places in lower Assam, such as Barpeta, Goalpara and Nalbari districts, is more,” he added.

State Congress president Ripun Bora announced a multi-pronged campaign against the new law.

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