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Assam burns over CAB, curfew in Guwahati, Army deployed

Guwahati, the epicentre of anti-CAB protests, was placed under indefinite curfew and Army was deployed in the city and Assam Rifles personnel were deployed in Tripura on Wednesday as the two northeastern states plunged into chaos over the hugely emotive Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, officials said.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Dec 12, 2019, 12.50 PM IST|Original: Dec 11, 2019, 06.53 PM IST
CAB protests: Curfew continues in Dibrugarh, Guwahati; 5 columns of Army deployed
CAB protests: Curfew continues in Dibrugarh, Guwahati; 5 columns of Army deployed
GUWAHATI: The Assam government clamped curfew in Guwahati, suspended mobile internet services in parts of the state for 24 hours and called in the Army as thousands of protesters from educational institutions and colleges besieged the city on Wednesday, torching vehicles, vandalising shops and pelting stones at the police in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

The All Assam Students Union called for public meeting in Guwahati on Thursday to protest against the bill. Two columns of Army were deployed in Guwahati, where a flag march will be conducted, while one army column was requisitioned for Tripura. At least 14 trains were cancelled, short-terminated or diverted anticipating “disruptions in train movement” during the protests.

Mobile internet services were suspended for 24 hours from 7 pm on Wednesday in Lakhimpur, Tinsukia, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (metro) and Kamrup districts. The services were suspended “to prevent the misuse of the mentioned media to disturb the peace and tranquillity of the state and for maintaining the law and order situation”, Kumar Sanjay Krishna, additional chief secretary to the Assam government, said in a notification on Wednesday.

“Curfew has been imposed in Guwahati (Assam) since 6:15 pm. It will remain imposed until normalcy is restored here,” Guwahati police commissioner Deepak Kumar said.

Despite barricades set up by the police, students stormed out on to the streets in various parts of the city, marched along the Guwahati-Shillong road for hours and protested at the secretariat, demanding a rollback of CAB. The students were joined by some staff from the secretariat. A stage erected for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s planned summit meeting with Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe on Sunday was damaged.

There were pitched battles between the protesters and the security forces across the state for the whole day, reminiscent of the anti-foreigners movement of 1979-1985. Police fired tear gas shells, baton-charged protesters and used water cannons to disperse the crowds, which kept swelling, following which curfew was imposed. Shops and businesses in Guwahati gradually started pulling down their shutters.

Many protesters were detained in Dibrugarh, Jorhat and other places.

Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal was stranded at Guwahati airport for several hours. The protesters questioned why Sonowal and finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma were unable to understand the sentiment of the people in the state despite being Assamese.

In Tripura, one person was killed while returning from the protests.

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