Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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Simmering anger in Assam
IFP Bureau | First Published: December 13, 2019 01:11:59 am

In Assam, there is simmering anger against the Government of India and the situation continues to remain volatile as three persons were reportedly killed and several others injured in police firing during a public protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

Defying the curfew, thousands of protesters staged demonstrations across the state amid flag march by the Indian Army. It has been reported that as the situation worsened, unified command meeting held in Guwahati on Thursday evening decided to hand over the charge of law and order to the Army.

New Delhi knows that the people of Assam are not willing to accept CAB. Except in the Barak valley, the people fear that CAB will lead to massive Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh swamping indigenous communities, burdenying resources and threatening their language, culture and tradition.

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CAB has a 2014 cut-off date but protesters in Assam say that they are still bearing the brunt of massive immigration from 1951 to 1971, while the rest of mainland India did not. Under such circumstances, it is unfair to impose CAB.

To the Assamese and close observers, when CAB becomes an Act, it would enable the over 1.5 lakh undocumented Hindu Bangladeshis residing in Assam to get Indian citizenship. Prominent civil society organisations in Assam feel that the Act would be contradictory to the Assam Accord signed between the Government of India and the All Assam Students Union (AASU) in 1985. The accord deems any person – whether a Hindu or Muslim – as “illegal” if found entering the state from Bangladesh after March 24, 1971.

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When one reviews the movement against illegal migrants and immigrants in Assam over the last 40 years, observers had noted that the non-violent movements eventually became violent struggles and civil movements turned into armed opposition movements.

The last few decades in the State have been marked by largely violent outbursts that have overshadowed non-violent means. One thing that has been constant over the years has been the confrontation between those representing New Delhi and those who have opposed the same policies. There seems to be an absolute inability to negotiate and there will be hurdles to find a quick resolution to the crisis currently prevalent in the state.

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