Guwahati, December 13
Goods flew off shelves as locals rushed to stock up essential items after shops and markets in Guwahati opened Friday morning amid reports that curfew has been relaxed, which were later dismissed by the authorities.
Long queues were seen outside shops at the Uzan Bazar, Chandmari, Silpukhuri and Zoo Road areas with people coming out in their cars and two-wheelers after some local channels reported that the prohibitory orders have been relaxed from 6 am to 1 pm.
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An Assam Police spokesman later clarified that there was no order about the curfew being relaxed and restrictions will be in force.
The restrictions were imposed at 6.15 pm on Thursday after violent protests against the amended Citizenship Act.
Security forces personnel who are manning each and every corner of the city, however, did not enforce closure of the markets and restrict movement of vehicles.
Long queues were seen outside grocery stores, shops selling poultry items and fish. Many said they were stocking items for at least three-four days in wake of the uncertainties amid the protests.
Several people were heard at the market saying they even got dressed for office after the reports of curfew relaxations. However, schools and offices remained shut.
Flag marches by the Army and personnel of the security forces are being conducted across the city.
Also, civic workers were seen clearing barricades, bricks and stones, burnt tyres and other things that dotted the city roads after the pitched battle between protestors and police on Thursday that left two persons dead.
Public transport, including buses, was off roads.
A large number of people, including artists, singers and filmstars, are observing a 10-hour fast called by the influential students' organisation against the Citizenship Act from 6 am.
AASU chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said that the protests will continue.
"We will not succumb to any pressure and our agitation will continue," he said.
Assam has been on the boil for the past several days as thousands of people have come out on the streets to protest against the amendment of the Citizenship Act. Two persons were killed in police firing in the state on Thursday.
Indigenous people of the Northeastern states are scared that the entry of these people will endanger their identity and livelihood.
Various organisations of the region have launched a series of agitations against the Bill.
On Thursday, two persons were killed in police firing and thousands descended on streets defying curfew as Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed his government was committed to safeguarding their rights.
Several towns and cities were placed under indefinite curfew, including Guwahati, the epicentre of protests, besides Dibrugarh, Tezpur, and Dhekiajuli. Night curfew was imposed in Jorhat, Golaghat, Tinsukia and Charaideo districts, officials said.
Internet services in 10 districts were suspended for another 48 hours beginning 12 pm on Thursday to prevent "misuse" of social media to disturb peace and tranquility, and to maintain law and order, officials said.
The state government had removed the Guwahati Police commissioner Deepak Kumar and appointed Munna Prasad Gupta in his place on Thursday.
Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) Mukesh Agarwal was also transferred and replaced by ADGP (CID) GP Singh.
President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday gave his assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, turning it into an Act.
According to the Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha on Wednesday and by Lok Sabha on Monday.
At least 106 passenger trains were either cancelled or short terminated by Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) in view of disruptions in train movement following protests against the amended Citizenship Act since Wednesday, the NFR said in a statement said on Friday.
The NFR has cancelled up and down Guwahati-Dimapur BG Express, Sealdah-Agartala Kanchanjungha Express and the Howrah-Dibrugarh Kamrup Express that were supposed to operate on Friday and Saturday, the NFR statement said.
Some trains such as Guwahati-Jorhat Janshatabdi Express, up and down Tinsukia-Naharlagun Intercity Express, Rajendranagar-New Tinsukia Express, Sealdah-Silchar Kanchanjungha Express, have been cancelled on Saturday.
The Jorhat-Guwahati Janshatabdi Express, Bangalore-Agartala Humsafar Express, up and down Dibrugarh-Ekargaon Special, up and down Lumding-Tinsukia passenger, up and down Dimapur -Mariani passenger, up and down Simaluguri-Dibrugarh passenger and Jorhat-Tinsuka passenger have also been cancelled on Saturday.
The statement also said that trains from Ledo to Dibrugarh and back, Dibrugarh to Dangri and back, up and down New Tinsukia-Rangiya Intercity Express and the Rangiya-New Tinsukia Intercity Express, Tinsukia-Jorhat passenger, up and down Dibrugarh-Murkongselek passenger would not be operated on Saturday and Sunday.
The Rajdhani Express which left New Delhi on December 12 has been short terminated.
Services between Guwahati and Dibrugarh will remain partially cancelled.
The Dibrugarh-New Delhi Rajdhani Express of December 16 will remain partially cancelled, the release quoted NFR Chief Public Relations Officer Subhanan Chanda as saying.
In addition, the Chandigarh-Dibrugarh Express, which left Chandigarh on December 11 will be short terminated at Guwahati and will remain partially cancelled between Guwahati and Dibrugarh, while the Dibrugarh-Tambaram Express of December 15 will remain partially cancelled between Dibrugarh-Guwahati.
It will start from Guwahati on December 17, the CPRO said.
The Tripura Sundari Express will operate as a passenger special from Badarpur to Agartala with stranded passengers, he said.
The up and down Dharmanagar-Silchar passenger and Agartala-Dharmanagar passenger of Saturday were restored, Chanda added.
Anti-CAB protests in Arunchal
In Arunchal, students' unions boycotted their examination to hit the streets across cities against the law.
Thousands of agitators, led by Rajiv Gandhi University Students' Union (RGUSU) and Students' Union of NERIST (SUN), marched from the varsity to Raj Bhavan, covering a distance of around 30 km on the hilly terrain.
Local people, along with those belonging to the Assamese community, also joined the rally here to protest against the controversial law, most of them raising slogans against the BJP-led government at the Centre.
In Arunchal, protesters claimed that Assam was the gateway to the northeast, and the region would suffer if the state gets affected.
The agitators submitted a memorandum to Governor BD Mishra, stressing that the amended Act would not be implemented in the state.
"We oppose the Citizenship Act and want its immediate revocation. The law will divide the region along religious lines and jeopardise the existence of the indigenous people," one the protesters claimed.
Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Friday directed state officials to ensure strict checking of Inner Line Permits (ILP) in check gates across the state.
Khandu also asked Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar and Director General of Police RP Upadhyaya to instruct all the deputy commissioners and superintendents of police to be vigilant and conduct regular patrolling for ensuring safety and security of the state people, an official release said.
The chief minister has sought daily reports on the action taken in this regard, officials said.
The amended Citizenship Bill exempts tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and areas covered under The Inner Line (ILP) regime, notified under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
Outsiders—including those from other parts of India—need permission to visit the ILP-regime states. The amended Citizenship Act will not apply to Arunachal Pradesh as the ILP system is in force in the state.
The administration was trying its best to provide petrol and diesel to the commuters at a prescribed limit per individual, a government official in Arunchal Pradesh said.
Protesters, however, claimed that Assam was the gateway to the northeast, and the region would suffer if the state gets affected.
Fuel goes up
Meanwhile, petrol and diesel crisis hit Arunachal Pradesh on Friday, especially in the state capital, as people queued up at fuel outlets, fearing that supply might get hit amid protests across the region.
The administration was trying its best to provide petrol and diesel to the commuters at a prescribed limit per individual, a government official said.
"All petrol depots in the state capital will be opened to the public for a few hours in the evening. The long queues at the fuel outlets have led to traffic snarls in the state capital," the official added.
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