Guwahati: Assam boiled and simmered as Rajya Sabha cleared the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (CAB) on Wednesday. 125 votes were cast in favour of the Bill. The three Shiv Sena MPs staged a walk out while 2 BSP MPs were absent. The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha on Monday.
The Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians, if they faced religious persecution in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Non-Muslim applicants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan would be given Indian citizenship if they had stayed in India for five years, instead of 11 years which was the rule till now.
Curfew has been imposed in Guwahati and internet and data services has been suspended in Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Sibsagar, Jorhat,Golaghat and Charideo till 7 pm on Thursday.
Guwahati saw massive protests throughout Wednesday. Student protesters clashed with police and CRPF personnel leaving several seriously injured. Protesters broke barricades and tried to barge into the Assam Secretariat. Police fired tear gas shells and used water canons and fired sound bombs to control the protesters. Heavy stone pelting left several injured. As time for voting on the Bill came closer, protesters went on a rampage destroying public property, setting public and private vehicles on fire. Protesters burnt the ramp and other installations which were put up across Guwahati for the upcoming visit by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was stuck for hours at the Borjhar airport in Guwahati as he was unable to enter the city due to the protests. Sonowal had returned from Tezpur.