Hundreds of students, joined by general public, continued to stage siege on the state secretariat at Dispur, in Assam’s main city Guwahati, for more than three hours as multiple instances of firing of rubber bullets, water cannons, tear gas shells and baton charge by security forces failed to dispel the protesters, who had launched ‘Dispur Chalo’ on December 11 morning against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
The students had reached the peripheral range of the secretariat at around 2pm and have since then have been pushing forward, with the security personnel being unable to maintain the security perimeter.
Till 5pm, police fired rubber bullets at the protesters more than once, lobbed tear gas shells and used baton charge several times, but the protesters have returned to their agitation.
The students of different colleges and universities of the city had launched the ‘Dispur Chalo’ at around 11am from near Panbazar area in Guwahati and marched about 10 kms, braving baton charges and rubber bullets, to reach Dispur, the power seat, around 2pm.
The protesters burnt tyres and hoardings near the secretariat on multiple times, but have refrained from causing any major breach of law and order.
Several leaders of students’ union bodies have already been arrested by the police. General public also joined the students outside the secretariat, while many state government employees were seen waving and clapping in support of the protesters from inside the secretariat premises.
City police commissioner Deepak Kumar, who has been stationed in front of the secretariat since noon, told reporters that the police will refrain from using force as long as the protests remain peaceful.
“We are trying to control the situation. We will act as per the law,” he added.
Several protesters as well as journalists sustained injuries during the baton charge and counter stone pelting by the students at different locations during the ‘Dispur Chalo’.
Meanwhile, protests have spread to other parts of the city, with reports of burning of tyres received from Basistha and Borbari areas, among others. The artists’ community also held a protest meet and took out a rally through the city, against the CAB.
On December 10 spontaneous supporters of the 11-hour North East Students Organisation (NESO)-called Northeast region shutdown had come out in hundreds in different parts of Guwahati, the main city of Assam as well as the ‘gateway to NE’, virtually laying siege at several vantage points.
Police had to resort to baton charge at different locations of the city, while the bandh supporters and general public attempted to gherao the state secretariat at Dispur and Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) headquarter at Maligaon.
Assam as well as NE region has been opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain and Christian refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who came to India prior to December 31, 2014.
The protesters have been claiming that it will change the demographic pattern of the state as well as NE region.