Two protestors died while several others got injured in police firing in Assam’s Guwahata on Thursday where thousands of people defied curfew to hit the streets as the raging agitation continue against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which was passed in the Parliament on Wednesday night.
The two protestors with bullet wounds were taken to the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital, where one was declared dead before the other died while being treated.
The government removed Guwahati police commissioner Deepak Kumar, who was replaced by Munna Prasad Gupta, while state additional general of police (Law and Order) Mukesh Agarwal was also transferred out, making way for GP Singh.
The indefinite curfew which was in force in Guwahati and Dibrugarh municipal area has been relaxed for 5 hours today till 1 pm today even as large number of people gathered in Chandmari area of Guwahati to observe a 10-hour long hunger strike called by the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) AASU to protest against the CAB has called for a 10-hour long hunger strike at Assam Engineering Institute ground at Chandmari today.
In Dibrugarh municipal area the indefinite curfew was relaxed from 8 am, officials said.
The army conducted a flag march in Guwahati and three districts including Dibrugarh and Tezpur and the authorities extended the suspension on Internet services for another 48 hours from 12 noon on Thursday, even as most airlines cancelled flights to and from Dibrugarh and Guwahati, and train movement was halted.
In an appeal to the people, state chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal called for maintaining peace and calm.
“I assure the people of Assam full protection to ensure their identity as a whole,” Sonowal said in a statement here, urging the masses to “please come forward and create a situation of peace and tranquility”.
“I hope the people will consider this appeal sensibly,” he said.
Leading cultural personalities of the state, and other civil society figures joined the protest also called by the Silpi Samaj (artistes forum). Actor Jatin Bora announced his resignation from BJP, while the state headquarters of its partner Assam Gana Parishad (AGP) came under attack.
Officials said protestors set fire to the house of MLA Binod Hazarika’s house in Chabua, and went on rampage torching vehicles and the circle office.
With the situation worsening, two army columns conducted flag marches in Guwahati, while three other columns were out on the streets in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Jorhat districts.
Most flights to and from Guwahati and Dibrugarh have been cancelled by various airlines, while the railways suspended all passenger train services to Assam.
“Indigo Airlines has cancelled one flight to Guwahati from Kolkata. The flights to Dibrugarh are being cancelled by most airlines due to the ongoing protests. However, Indigo will operate a ferry flight to bring back the stranded passengers from Dibrugarh,” an NSCBI Airport spokesperson said.
A Northeast Frontier Railway official said the decision to suspend passenger train operations to Assam and Tripura was taken on Wednesday night in view of the security situation.
A large number of passengers were stranded at Guwahati and Kamakhya with the railways short-terminating long distance trains at Guwahati.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday gave his assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, turning it into an Act.
According to the Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha on Wednesday and by Lok Sabha on Monday.