Guwahati, Feb 2 (PTI) The Assam government Saturday appealed to all groups, organisations and political parties to be peaceful and “dignified” in their agitation against the contentious citizenship bill.
Protest have rocked the state since the bill’s passage in the Lok Sabha and on Friday activists of the peasant organisation Kisan Mazdoor Sangram Samiti held a nude protest outside the Assam Secretariat.
Chief secretary Alok Kumar told a press conference here that it is the responsibility of the leaders to keep the movement peaceful.
“The state is passing through a stage which is challenging… We are a mature democracy. We can understand the aspirations and concerns of the people”, he said.
Without making any direct reference to the KMSS protest, Kumar said “We have observed certain deviations of late. The government feels that we have to try to be as tolerant and as dignified in our conduct as possible.” “It is very important to observe the accepted democratic procedures because as a society we owe it to the next generation, our children and the young, who have impressionable minds,” he said.
The chief secretary said they looked up to the older people as role models and the way they conducted themselves in public affected the children’s thinking and behaviour.
“Some of the aspects like trying to take off clothes and protesting may not be the best way to draw attention in a matured society,” Kumar added.
Stressing on dignified conduct, he said “We must respect each other. It is very important that this discourse not degenerate into violent behaviour on the streets.” Otherwise, the situation would become much more difficult. It might go out of the control of organisers and groups and even of law and order authorities.
“It is very important to avoid this and take a step back when such occasions arise,” the chief secretary said.
Kumar said the protest against the bill has been peaceful so far and hoped it continues to be so as the general elections are due in the next two to three months.
“Our present assessment is that the situation is peaceful but challenging. On a scale of one to ten, it is slowly progressing”.
Police said the nude protest was held by three KMSS activists who were arrested and added that necessary measures were taken to prevent recurrence of such incidents.
Stressing that a free and fair atmosphere is important for expressing opinions, Kumar said, “Let us maintain a peaceful and healthy environment and express our opinions in peaceful dignified and acceptable manner.” Director General of Police Kuladhar Saikia, who was also present at the meet, said the law and order situation in the state was not out of control.
He said the police was impartial and had strongly acted against law breakers.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.