Hundreds of students, artists, leading citizens and general public defied curfew in Guwahati, Assam’s main city, to hold a protest meeting against the Citizenship Amendment Bill at Latasil Field of the city on December 12.
Spontaneous road blockades and protests were staged at other parts of the city also, with security agencies’ attempts to clear these resulting in bullet injury to one protester.
The people came out for the Latasil Field meet in response to a call given by the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and popular singer-music composer Zubeen Garg.
Though the meeting was called prior to imposition of curfew on December 11 evening, the people defied the curfew and reached the venue in hordes.
Security forces had initially tried to disperse the crowd and even engaged in baton charge at the routes leading to the Latasil Field, but the agitators defied all attempts and managed to assemble at the venue.
The Army had conducted flag march at many of the roads leading to the venue, but the people chose to ignore the risks and came out in large numbers.
As the AASU leaders, Zubeen and other artists and leading personalities reached the field, which is situated opposite the Latasil Police Station, the crowd swelled in numbers.
AASU leaders Samujjal Bhattacharyya and Dipaannka Nath, journalists Ajit Bhuyan and Nitumoni Saikia, artists Manas Robin, Barsha Rani Bishaya and Zubeen Garg, among others, took part in the protests, exhorting all to join the protests and at the same time, urging all to keep it peaceful.
Bhattacharyya announced of a mass hunger strike at Chandmari Field on December 13, and requested all sections of people to join it. He also spelt out a two-pronged strategy to carry out the agitation, and said, “We have to explore the legal recourse to fight the CAB and we have already initiated steps for it. Secondly, we have to build up and carry on a peaceful civil movement against it.”
He termed today’s meeting a victory of the people as they defied curfew to participate, and requested the people to disperse and return home peacefully after the more-than-two hour long meeting.
Spontaneous road blockades by burning tyres, trees and other materials were reported from across the city, including Six Mile, Basistha, Ganeshguri, GS Road, Chandmari, and near B Borooah College.
Security forces had to resort to using baton charge, lobbing tear gas shells and firing rubber bullets on multiple occasions in the city to disperse the protesters.
One protester sustained bullet injury at Lalung Gaon area in the city, while many protesters also sustained minor injuries at different parts.
Assam has been in the grip of protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, with indefinite curfew in Guwahati and Dibrugarh, Army called in at multiple towns of the state and internet services suspended.