STAFF REPORTER GUWAHATI, Nov 16 - The ongoing protest rallies against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 across the State under the ‘Sankalpa Shikha Jatra’, led by Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and its 70 ally organisations culminated in the State capital Guwahati today, with the protesters staging a massive demonstration at the Ganesh Udyan near Dispur.
Activists of 70 indigenous organisations staging a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, in Guwahati on Friday. – AT photo
The agitators, however, were prevented from holding the proposed ‘Dispur Gherao’ programme and the marchers were stopped by police on the road at Last Gate.
Addressing the gathering, KMSS chief adviser Akhil Gogoi said that the people of Assam would not relent until and unless the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is rescinded at the earliest. “The people will be satisfied with nothing less than withdrawal of the ill-intended citizenship Bill that will make the Assamese people minority in our homeland. The Sarbananda Sonowal-led State government must step down if it cannot convince the Centre to rescind the Bill,” he added.
Earlier in the morning, activists from KMSS, AJYCP and other organisations started pouring into Ganesh Udyan at Dispur. However, the protesters, who were proceeding towards Guwahati from other places of the State, were stopped by police at Jalukbari, Amingaon and Sonapur.
The protesters who had travelled by buses and trains to Guwahati were reportedly detained at various places.
The protesting organisations had a ‘Dispur Gherao’ plan but the authorities gave them permission to hold a meeting at the Ganesh Udyan with 1,000 people.
The administration had earlier imposed Section 144 in the city in an attempt to foil the assemblage at Dispur.
Continuing with his tirade against the State government, Gogoi said, “One of the two things will have to happen. Either the Bill is withdrawn or the State government has to resign,” he said.
“Sonowal is a betrayer. The so-called ‘Jatiya Nayak’ is now under the tutelage of the RSS. He has turned deaf, dumb and blind. In a sense, Sonowal has died. A dead body cannot be the Chief Minister. Today we are issuing the last warning. Scrap the Bill or the Assamese people will dump Sarbananda Sonowal, along with his Chief Minister’s chair, into the Brahmaputra,” Gogoi said.
He said if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is passed then around 1.9 crore Bangladeshis would enter Assam. “That means 1.5-2 lakh Hindu Bangladeshis in each Assembly constituency. If that happens, the indigenous people of Assam will not be in a position to win even a gaon panchayat seat. We will lose all our political and economic rights. The tea garden workers will lose jobs to cheaper Bangladeshi Hindu labourers. All industrial houses will opt to employ only Bangladeshi Hindus,” he said.
The KMSS leader said that the RSS has now started to term Srimanta Sankaradev and Lachit Borphukan as Hindu icons. “We will never allow anyone to separate Srimanta Sankaradev and Lachit Borphukan from our identity and consciousness. Srimanta Sankaradev is our guru. Lachit Borphukan is our hero,” he said.
Some people, Gogoi said, are saying that the number of Hindus in Assam is dwindling and so Hindu Bangladeshis should to be provided citizenship to ensure that Assam does not become a Muslim-majority State. “We don’t need Bangladeshis to save our majority. We can preserve the majority of the Assamese people by throwing out the foreigners,” he said.
AJYCP general secretary Palash Changmai said that the State government has unleashed terror on the protesters. He also accused the Chief Minister of sacrificing the interests and aspirations of the people of Assam.
Leaders of various organisations also took addressed the gathering.