Guwahati: Over 40 organisations, including the Congress, have called for a 12-hour Assam bandh today to protest against the government’s bid to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in the Winter Session of Parliament.
The 12-hour statewide shutdown against the Citizenship Bill has been called by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) and 44 other organisations.
The state government has instructed all district magistrates and superintendents of police to take all measures to maintain the public utility services in view of the bandh.
The state government has directed all district administrations to ensure that there is no bandh, with all deputy commissioners issuing orders that all shops, business establishments, educational institutions remain open, transport facilities should function normally and all government officials should attend to their duties, official sources said.
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 the Assamese and their identity was at stake by the Bill”.
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.
On Monday, state Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Gauhati High Court had ruled that calling a bandh was an illegal act and so the statewide bandh called by 46 organisations on Tuesday cannot be allowed.
“All shops and business establishments should remain open while government employees must report for their duties or else it will be treated as a contempt of court,” he added.
The Gauhati High Court had banned bandhs in the state and termed them “unconstitutional and illegal”.
The ruling BJP’s alliance partner, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), though not supporting the bandh, has called a separate rally Tuesday to protest against the proposed Bill, party president and Agriculture Minister Atul Bora said.
A team of AGP ministers, MLAs and leaders also went to Delhi to meet the members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Bill.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) is also not supporting the bandh as the students’ body has a policy of not calling bandhs but “others have the democratic right to protest”, AASU General Secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi told PTI.
Meanwhile, various district administrations in Assam have asked all the essential service providers to continue their services on October 23 and to renounce the bandh call of different organisations.
(With PTI inputs)