Citizenship Bill row: Protests greet Modi in Assam

Guwahati :- All Assam Students Union (AASU) members shouted slogans against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and waved black flags at Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he arrived in Guwahati on Friday evening on a two-day visit to the northeast.

A students group in Assam has given a call to organise a bandh on Saturday when Modi travels in the state; the prime minister is also scheduled to travel to Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh on Saturday.

Modi witnessed the protests when he travelled to the Raj Bhavan in Guwahati, where he was to spend the night, from Lokopriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport.

A large number of AASU members were seen waving black flags to Modi and shouting slogans as his convoy crossed the gates of the Gauhati University and as he crossed the premises of the AASU headquarters on M.G. Road. Slogans like “Modi, go back”, “Scrap Citizenship (Amendment )Bill” and “Joi Aai Asom (Glory to Mother Assam)” were heard.

A large group of BJP supporters and ministers such as Sidhartha Bhattacharya (education) and Pijush Hazarika (health) were seen standing near the AASU protesters, waving placards and shouting slogans welcoming Modi.

The demonstrators were restricted as the gates to the AASU office as it was locked by the police, the students union's chief advisor Sammujal Bhattacharya claimed. Activists of the AGP also protested against Modi's visit in Guwahati and got into scuffles with police personnel.

"The government with its machinery can show its power and strength... No matter how much the government tries to quell the protests, the agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will continue. The government has proven that it is a protector of the Bangladeshi infiltrators and is against the indigenous people of Assam," he said.

Modi arrived at the Guwahati airport from Jalpaiguri in West Bengal in a special Indian Air Force plane and was received by Governor Jagdish Mukhi, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and senior government officials.

"The pain of the indigenous people will be seen across Assam tomorrow (Saturday)... Effigies of the prime minister will be burnt in every corner of the state," said AASU president Dipanka Nath.

Peasant organisation Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) too showed black flags to Modi at Adabari and Fancy Bazar areas of the city, which fell on his route.

KMSS chief Akhil Gogoi said on Friday Modi would be shown black flags by 70 organisations protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Saturday.

"Modi has come here to seek votes from the people of Assam. The bill has been brought in to give citizenship to Hindu Bengalis from Bangladesh and get their votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls," he alleged.

"We demand the prime minister announces tomorrow that the money taken by BJP leaders Mukul Roy (West Bengal) and Himanta Biswa Sarma in the Saradha ponzi scam be returned to the people," he added.

This is Modi's third visit to Assam since December 25, 2018 when he inaugurated the Bogibeel bridge. In his second visit on January 4 this year, the prime minister had told a rally in Silchar that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would be passed by Parliament soon, triggering widespread protests in the state.  

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