For over a month, despite several hurdles, Assam has kept its fire burning in solidarity against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. This Amendment, from which Assam has not been excluded, has put the purpose of the Assam Accord in deep peril.
Assam, since the Indo-Pakistan war in 1971, has been opposed to the entry of illegal migrants, irrespective any religion. This opposition arose when the entry of the names of various immigrants from Bangladesh into the voter’s list of India. Over the years of the entry of illegal immigrants into India, Assam was overpopulated and dominated by these outsiders, only to be reduced to a minority in their own state, thus resulting a risk to the culture and language of the indigenous people of Assam.
These reasons led to the Assam Agitation, a series of protests day and night for six years, from 1979 to 1985. Such along period of unrest finally resulted in a settlement via the Assam Accord, where there was a promise on the part of the government to solve this problem of migration from Bangladesh and reduce the burden on the people of Assam.
However, with inclusion of Assam in the Bill that has recently been passed on 11th December, 2019, there is a clear indication that those migrants from Bangladesh who are of Hindu religion and have entered India before 31st December, 2014 will receive citizenship easily and be allowed to stay in Assam.
In order to be heard, many people from Assam filled the streets to voice their opinions against the Bill being passed and becoming a law. These protests have continued till date, despite the suspension of internet services for ten days in the key regions of Assam, namely Guwahati. It is important to note, however, that barring a small number of unfortunate violent acts, the protests have been silent and in fact innovative as well.
The protests across Assam have been led by the students, similar to the Assam Agitation which was led by the Assam Gana Parishad. The pain of these students from the renowned colleges of Cotton University and Guwahati University was visible when many students wrote protest slogans in their blood, showing their passion and dedication to their cause. The students of the All Assam Students Union also went on a hunger strike to be heard.
Guwahati saw various forms of protests. The large-scale musical protests are noteworthy in this context. Stadiums full of people singing Assamese songs together showed a positivity in the spirit of voicing their opinions. Various songs were sung, thus lightening the mood and eliminating any sort of violence that protests aggravate to.
Another set of protests arose by the artistic community. All the people gathered at the location recited poems and enacted plays with dialogues. This was yet another impressive way of showing solidarity for a common cause.
There was another protest where the many people silently gathered to show willingness to be arrested if the Amendment was not struck down.
All these above ways of showing dissent are peaceful and yet eye catching. This highlights that despite all kinds of movements and innovation to draw attention to an inherently neglected part of India, not much focus has been given to Assam’s struggle and this region lacks support from mainstream India.
Assam must be heard.
Tags : Assam