Guwahati: As anti-Citizenship law protests intensified in Assam with protesters vandalizing vehicles, shops and buildings, and clashing with the security forces, Paresh Baruah, the chief of the banned rebel outfit United Liberation Front of Assam- Independent (ULFA-I) made an appeal to people to end violence and solve the issue in a “democratic manner”.
Speaking to News18 from and undisclosed location, Baruah said, “All protestors should follow democratic process against Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). There are some criminal-minded people who turned to violence in Guwahati and burnt vehicles, tyres and shops.”
“We are strictly monitoring the agitation and we found that there was no student involvement in vandalism. This is the act of some forces with vested interest, who instigated others to resort to violence,” he added.
In Guwahati, where an indefinite curfew was imposed, the administration has snapped broadband internet services as anti-Citizenship Amendment Bill protests in Assam intensified. Two protesters succumbed to bullet injuries at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital. Officials confirmed both of them were shot at, in two separate parts of the city.
The Union Home Ministry Thursday kept around 20 companies — around 2,000 personnel — of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF) on standby to move to Assam on Friday.
Speaking on agitation against CAB, the rebel chief said, “The BJP government should withdraw army presence from the streets of Assam. The student and civil society has the right to protest against the Anti-Assamese bill. The government should identify the miscreants who took to violence, but allow peaceful protests to take place.”
Late on Thursday, President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the Bill even as violent protests continued to rock the state. The law seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians — it leaves out Muslims — who entered the country from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan by December 31, 2014.
Curfew was imposed in Dibrugarh, Sonitpur, Bongaigaon, Tinsukia and Jorhat districts of Assam following violent protests. Seventeen columns of Army and more than twenty columns of the Assam Rifles, a paramilitary force under the army’s operational command, were deployed in the five locations, including Guwahati city.
Internet services in ten districts of Brahmaputra valley were suspended for another 48 hours Thursday from 12 pm to prevent “misuse” of social media to disturb peace and tranquility, and to maintain law and order.
“Internet services will remain suspended in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup”, Kumar Sanjay Krishna, Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Political department) said.
Mobile internet and messaging services were also suspended in neighboring Meghalaya for 48 hours from 5pm of Thursday after incidents of vandalisation of vehicles.