July 02, 2020
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Northeast Plunges Into Chaos As Citizenship Bill Protests Turn Violent; CRPF, Army Called In

Security forces fired teargas shells and rubber bullets at protesters at several places in Assam.

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Northeast Plunges Into Chaos As Citizenship Bill Protests Turn Violent; CRPF, Army Called In

The Northeast witnessed violent protests on Wednesday against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, prompting the government to deploy additional 5,000 troops and impose an indefinite curfew in Guwahati.

The protests continued late in the evening even as the Rajya Sabha passed the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

In Assam, tens of thousands of protesters descended on the streets, clashing with police and plunging the state into a chaos of a magnitude unseen since the violent 6-year movement by students that ended with the signing of the Assam accord.

Though no party or student body has called a shutdown, protesters, a majority of them students, fought pitched battles with security forces in the restive state, including in front of the secretariat, the seat of the BJP government.

Police fired tear gas shells and baton-charged protesters, who fought back.

The protesters also set buses on fire in Dispur, Assam.

The violent protests brought life to a standstill, even as security forces fired teargas shells and rubber bullets to disperse the protests in Assam. Chief  Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was stranded at Guwahati airport for more than an hour due to the intense protests.

Amid protests, the Centre airlifted 5,000 paramilitary personnel to Northeastern states, including Assam, for maintenance of law and order duties. Nearly 20 companies (2,000 personnel) have been withdrawn from Kashmir, where they had been sent prior to the Centre's decision on August 5 to abrogate Article 370 provisions and split the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, news agency PTI reported.

The remaining 30 companies have been withdrawn from other places and rushed to Northeastern states, the officials said.

Curfew has been imposed in Guwahati till indefinite period amid the protests, said Assam Police ADG (Law and Order), Mukesh Agrawal.

The Army has been deployed in parts of Tripura, where violent protests have been continuing since Tuesday. Two columns of the Army have been dispatched to the Kanchanpur and Manu areas of the state. One column consists of at least 70 soldiers and is led by one, usually two, officers.

The Army is also on standby in Assam's Bongaingon.

Defence PRO, Lt. Colonel Harshvardhan Pandey, 4th Corps, Tezpur told Outlook that Bongaingon District Collector has sent requisition for the army, "but it is still on standby".

"Apart from that, we have no any such requisition as of now," he said.

Explained  What Is Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB)? Which States Are Exempted & Why?

The Internet services in 10 districts of Assam have also been snapped for next 24 hours.

Internet services will be suspended in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup, according to a notification issued by Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Political Department) Kumar Sanjay Krishna.

Internet will be suspended as "social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and You Tube etc are likely to be used for spreading of rumours and also for transmission of information like pictures, videos and texts that have the potential to inflame passions and does exacerbate the law and order situation", the notification said.

Opinion: BJP Has Attacked Indian Constitution Before, But CAB Biggest Of All Attacks

In view of the massive protests in Assam, the Northeast Frontier Railway cancelled many trains and rescheduled a few that originate from the state.

At least 14 trains have either been cancelled, short terminated or diverted anticipating "disruptions in train movement," NF Railway Chief Public Relations Officer Subhanan Chanda said in a statement.

Also Read: Opposition Speaking Pak's Language On Citizenship Bill: PM Modi

The Tripura government on Tuesday suspended mobile internet and SMS services in the state for 48 hours after police found that rumours were being mongered about ethnic clashes between tribals and non-tribals in Manu and Kanchanpur areas.

The step has been taken to prevent mischief mongers from spreading rumours and to maintain law and order situation in the state, the government said.

Opinion: Assam Model Of ‘Harassment’ Will Be Replicated Across India

The Northeast has been witnessing violent clashes over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, that provides Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians who illegally migrated to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The Bill cleared the Lok Sabha test and Rajya Sabha will become legislation after the President gives his assent. 

(With inputs from PTI)

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