Citizenship Bill: 12-hour Assam bandh turns violent, but protests may subside

Bandh supporters attempted to block movement of vehicles on National Highways and other roads by burning tyres and laying tree trunks in the early hours of the bandh, police said

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Guwahati: Protesters burnt tyres and kept tree trunks on roads to block movement of vehicles in Bodoland Territorial Area districts during a 12-hour Assam bandh called by a conglomerate of tribal organisations on Friday.

The Coordination Committee of the Tribal Organisations of Assam (CCTOA) has called the bandh to protest a bill that seeks to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to six ethnic communities in the State.
The bandh was near total in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) such as Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Baksa and Chirang, Bongaigaon, besides in tribal-dominated areas of Morigaon, Nagaon, Hojai, Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong districts.

Bandh supporters attempted to block movement of vehicles on National Highways and other roads by burning tyres and laying tree trunks in the early hours of the bandh, police said.

Trucks were stranded on NH-36 at Doboka, they said.

Shops, markets, educational institutions, banks, private offices remained closed, while vehicles kept off the road.

Attendance in government offices was thin due to the absence of public transport in the bandh-hit areas, police said, adding that the bandh had no impact in the State capital.

Security arrangements were stepped up in view of the bandh in Assam which is also witnessing massive protests over the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

This bandh comes close on the heels of an 11-hour strike called on Tuesday against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

Bandh sponsors have criticised the BJP-led Centre’s move to pass the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes), Amendment Bill, stating it would eliminate the “genuine tribal people” of the State.

The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Amendment Bill seeks to accord ST status to six ethnic groups — Koch-Rajbongshis, Tea Tribes/Adivasis, Tai Ahoms, Morans, Motoks and Chutia — was tabled in Lok Sabha on Wednesday.
Protests might subside: Here’s why

Himanta Biswa Sarma has said, with this conversion of communities into tribes, 18 districts have been stopped from “going to Jinnah”. It implies that as many constituencies will not see any Bangladeshi settler as a contestant in an election, as they will be reserved for Scheduled Tribe candidates. This has blunted the protests of the Assamese activists as, despite the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, even non-Muslim Bangladeshis, if accepted as citizens of India, cannot rule in these many districts of the small State.

The bandh is supported also by Dimasa Students Union, Hmar Students Association, All Biate Students Association, Hrangkhol Students Association, All Dimasa Students Union, Khasi Students Union, Karbi Students Association.