Protesters try blocking trains, roads during Assam strike
Protesters today attempted to stall trains across north eastern Indian state of Assam as a 12-hour general strike called by 46 Assamese indigenous groups was enforced in protest against the Indian government's Bill that aims at giving citizenship to "persecuted" Hindus and other religious minorities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Police officials said here that the demonstrators tried to set up block rail service by squatting on tracks but they were being evicted, reports our New Delhi correspondent.
During the strike which comes in the midst of updating of the National Register of Citizens that kept out 4.7 million people out of it to weed out illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, the strike supporters burnt tyres on roads in various places of the state. Police escorts were provided to public transport vehicles during the shutdown.
46 organisations in Assam have called for a 12-hour statewide bandh today against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016; #Visuals from Guwahati's Fancy Bazaar pic.twitter.com/dt3Y9nmMr5
— ANI (@ANI) October 23, 2018
The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), Asom Jatiyatabadi Jubo Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) and 44 other organisations have called the strike to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in the coming winter session of Parliament.
Political parties, including the Congress and All India United Democratic Front, have extended their support to the shutdown "in the interest of Assam and its indigenous people."
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious "persecution" in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before December 31, 2014.
The supporters of the strike say that the Bill will allow more non-Assamese people to settle in Assam, threatening the majority of Ahoms.
All district magistrates and superintendents of police in Assam have been instructed by the BJP government in the state to take measures to maintain public utility services in view of the strike call.
A government statement said necessary pre-emptive and preventive measures to thwart the strike must be taken in view of the judgement of the Gauhati High Court.
The deputy commissioners of respective districts had issued orders that all government officials should attend to their duties.
It also said that shops, business establishments, educational institutions should remain open.
Ahead of the strike, Assam Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Monday that the Gauhati High Court had ruled that calling a strike was an illegal act and so the shutdown called for today cannot be allowed as it will amount to contempt of court.
KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi said this was the first time that they had called a bandh and they would not call it off as the very "existence of Assamese and their identity was at stake by the Bill".