Assam Bandh on Tuesday against JPC meeting over Citizenship Bill
Guwahati : At least 60 organisations, including the Congress, have called a 12-hour Assam bandh on Tuesday to protest against a meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee with the Ministries of Home and External Affairs over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.
The bill seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, drawing opposition from several organisations in Assam.
The BJP government in Assam, led by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, has made adequate preparations to maintain peace and normalcy in the state.
The bandh called by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) is supported by at least 60 organisations and pressure groups in Assam.
The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which is a partner of the BJP-led alliance government in the state, is organising a rally in protest against the JPC's proposed meeting with the MEA and MHA on Tuesday. The AGP said that at least 50,000 people will participate in the rally.
The organizations have called the bandh against the JPC meeting with the officials of MHA and MEA without visiting Assam for a second time to take on board every shade of opinion. Although the JPC, led by BJP MP Rajendra Agrawal, had visited Assam in May this year, not all organisations and leaders could meet it.
Sonowal on Monday held a meeting with senior ministers and BJP leaders to discuss the bandh called by different organisations. The government also issued directives to employees to report for duty on Tuesday.
Police have been asked to arrest the bandh supporters, and traders told to keep shops and business establishments open, failing which their trade licences will be cancelled.
The BJP leaders who met the Chief Minister on Monday also urged the government not to accord permission to a November 17 meeting of Bengali organisations in Guwahati, supporting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.
"The proposed meeting on November 17 is likely to result in law and order issues. We will not allow the November 17 meeting," said Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
He said that according to a Gauhati High Court order, calling a bandh is illegal. "The court has termed the bandh as illegal. We have to follow the court's order. Those calling a bandh will have to pay for the damages that they cause," he added.
The KMSS clarified that the organisation does not support calling bandhs, but a bandh call on Tuesday was necessitated as the BJP-led government in Assam is behaving in a dictatorial manner. "We cannot allow the government to make Assam a second Jammu & Kashmir or a Tripura, where the indigenous people have become a minority," said KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi.