Tinsukia: A massive gathering of more than 70,000 protesters turned up in Assam’s Dibrugarh — the home town of chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal — raising slogans against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on Tuesday, days after finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma declared a slew of Cabinet decisions to lure indigenous populations amid widespread protests.
The protest rally titled ‘Janatar Gorjan’ was organised by the powerful All Assam Students’ Union’s (AASU) Dibrugarh unit and supported by various organisations and local population at the historic Chowkidingee field.
Addressing the gathering, AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said that Jharkand polls is a political rejection of BJP and its communal agenda to divide the country for vote-bank politics. “The people of Jharkand have responded to PM Narendra Modi and Amit Shah on this unconstitutional act that is aimed to divide the country on religious lines. The political rejection comes after social rejection pan India against CAA,” he said.
“BJP is trying to polarise the population in the name of Hindu and Muslims using CAA and they have shown a pro-Hindu face,” Gogoi said in his speech.
Speaking with EastMojo, Gogoi said this is a mass movement and people are opposing this Act for communal agenda of BJP. “They are trying to communalise and polarise the entire population of the country; using Assam and Northeast as guinea pig they are imposing CAA. There is clearly a vote bank agenda hidden behind CAA,” he said.
“The influx problem is totally different in the state of Assam in comparison to other parts of the country,” he added.
According to Gogoi, the BJP is trying to “trap” the Muslim vote by introducing National Register of Citizenship (NRC) across the nation. “In Assam, CAA will safeguard citizenship of all non-Muslims who have not made to the list of NRC. The day NRC will be implemented nation-wide, this Act will do the same thing, leaving Muslims trapped,” he said.
“Lakhs of angry protesters holding placards in Sonowal’s home town is a clear indication of people’s mood to Assam and central government,” Gogoi said, adding, population from rural and semi-urban have spoken their mind. “Even if now the government doesn’t roll back the Act, our peaceful and democratic protest will grow stronger and louder. We may also decide civil disobedience as part of our protest,” he said.
A woman, on wheelchair following a surgery, remained the special attention and her brief speech evoked emotional response.
Addressing the gathering, the woman, who claimed to be a faculty member of Dibrugarh University, said, Dibrugarh Chowkidingee khel pathar ot sonmilit hua hongrami raiz ok mur pranam (My ‘pranam’ to the protesters who have gathered at Chowkidingee field). “I had decided not to attend this rally as my health was not permitting, but when I came across a post of a powerful minister of Assam on social media, who addressed the martyrs as miscreants, my blood boiled,” she said.
“Five youngsters laid down their life. The ministers want us to address them as martyrs only after government declares them martyr. What a pathetic mentality; it shook my mother’s heart within me and I decided to come here,” the woman said.
“This government has murdered 16-year-old kid and now they have the courage to say that these kids are not martyrs. It is so painful,” she added, amid a huge round of applause that buzzed the open playground.
The business community of this upper Assam town chose to shut down their shops ahead of the rally as solidarity to the cause. “Several businessmen participated in the rally and also helped protestors with water. The market opened after rally ended at 4 pm,” claimed sources.
Speaking with EastMojo, a prominent businessman of Dibrugarh, Taken Lohia, said, “Representatives of 17 organisations affiliated to the Marwari Samaj chose to close their shops and participate in the protest rally.”
“We demand rollback of CAA in unified voice,” Lohia added.
Several singers including Manas Robin and other leading citizens of Dibrugarh participated and expressed their anger against CAA and BJP.
In the meantime, Tinsukia and Dibrugarh district administration relaxed night curfew from Tuesday evening.