Large parts of Assam and other northeastern states remained shut on Tuesday to protest the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in response to a call given by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO).
The 11-hour strike from 5am to 4pm was observed in Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Tripura.
In Assam’s Golaghat and Dibrugarh districts, protesters attempted to vandalise BJP offices, leading to the arrest of 14 persons in Dibrugarh and four in Golaghat, police said. In Guwahati, tyres were burnt at multiple locations amidst the complete shutdown.
The shutdown, however, had no considerable impact in Assam’s Bengali-majority Barak Valley region comprising the three districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi, and normal life was not affected here. The Bill is supported by large sections of people in the region.
The AASU has said the bandh was successful and has denied any responsibility for the incidents of violence.
However, state BJP president Ranjit Dass, specifically warning the Congress and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti which were allegedly behind the acts of violence on his party’s offices, said, “Do not provoke us. We too have over 27 lakh political workers.”
In Tripura, the strike was essentially observed in the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC), where it was marred by violence between protesters and police – at least four demonstrators were injured after police allegedly opened fire at them.
Ajit Pratap Singh, superintendent of police of the West Tripura district, told The Indian Express over phone that at around 10am, around 250 protesters had blocked the national highway in the area and had pelted stones on police personnel. “…We used tear gas shells and fired in air. We have reports of four injured persons,” Singh said.
But Upendra Debbarma, advisor to the Twipra Students’ Federation (TSF) and the vice-chairman of NESO, told The Indian Express that 18 protesters were injured.
Hours after the violence broke out, the Tripura government banned SMS and mobile internet services across the state for 48 hours, beginning 3pm on Tuesday. An order signed by S Chaudhuri, additional secretary, government of Tripura, said that SMS, Whatsapp and other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube could be used for transmission of fake images and videos which could incite violence on a larger scale.