Protests against CAA resume in Assam as AASU hits the streets, NESO and AAPSU also stage dharna

GUWAHATI, 17 Aug: After a gap of over two years, protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) resumed across Assam on Monday.

Protests by members of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), a part of the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) was held in all the district headquarters of the state amid heavy security arrangements.

In Guwahati, the protests were held outside the ‘Swahid Bhawan,’ the AASU headquarters.

NESO advisor Samujjal Bhattacharjee told reporters that the people of Assam can never accept the CAA and it has to be repealed.

“We had to suspend our protests two years ago due to the prevailing pandemic but have now decided to renew it so that the CAA is not implemented,” he said.

“The anger against this unjust law, however, has been burning in the hearts of the Assamese people and our protests against it will continue till it is repealed,” he added.

The students’ organisation also demanded an end to the problem of radicalisation, a permanent solution to the foreigners’ issue and the complete removal of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) from the entire Northeast.

It also demanded constitutional safeguards for the indigenous population of Tripura, resolving the problem of Chakma-Hajong refugees in Arunachal Pradesh and a separate recruitment board for the youths of the Northeast.

The protests were also held in all the Northeastern states.

The contentious CAA seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis entering India on or before December 31, 2014 from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after five years of residence here.

Assam witnessed widespread anti-CAA agitation led by different organisations in late 2019 and early 2020, leading to the deaths of five people.

Mizoram’s apex student body Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) on Wednesday staged a demonstration in Aizawl demanding withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

The protest was made in response to a call given by the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), the umbrella body of major student bodies in the eight North-eastern states.

In the sit-in held at the MZP office here, supporters of the organisation demanded that the Centre revoke CAA and AFSPA from the region.

It also asked the central government to resolve the inter-state boundary disputes in the Northeast and the problems faced by the states of the region along the international border.

The MZP demanded that an education policy be framed to suit the culture of the people of the region.

Its other demands included providing relief to the Myanmarese refugees staying in the Northeast and declaration of a separate time zone and special employment zone for the Northeast.

The Northeast Students’ Organisation (NESO) and All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) also staged a dharna here in Itanagar.

AAPSU has called on the government to resolve the Chakma-Hajong refugee issue and those immigrants from the neighboring country of Myanmar.

AAPSU president Dozi Tana Tara stated that the illegal settlement of Chakmas and the Hajongs is a direct threat to Arunachal Pradesh.

Arunachal unit NESO co-ordinator Pritam Wai Sonam stated that the issue of Chakma and Hajong refugees in the state needs immediate attention and should be solved at the earliest. Waii demanded that the centre come up with a policy to safeguard the rights of people with regards to land and resources.

The NESO coordinator also demanded for a special economic package for the NER while highlighting the issues of flashflood that occurs every year during the monsoon.

He also demanded for establishment of sufficient number of medical and technical colleges in the Northeastern states while stressing on the lack of proper health policy. (PTI)