Assam shuts down against Citizenship Bill, protesters squat on tracks, burn tyres

Assam bandh

New Delhi, Oct 23: Protesters burnt tyres on roads, tried to put up blockades on railway tracks and disrupted the train services across Assam as part of the 12-hour state-wide bandh called by 40 organisations against the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 on Tuesday.

The shutdown, backed by the opposition Congress and the BJP’s ally the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), has been called from 5 in the morning till 5 pm. Essential services have been kept outside its purview.

The bill proposes to grant citizenship to religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In order to maintain peace and normalcy in the state in view of bandh, the BJP government in Assam, led by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday convened a meeting attended by senior ministers and BJP leaders to discuss the bandh. Meanwhile, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma cited a Gauhati High Court order and said a bandh is illegal. “The court has termed the bandh as illegal. We have to follow the court’s order. Those calling a bandh will have to pay for the damages that they cause,” he added.

Moreover, the Assam Government has made it mandatory for employees to report for duty on 23 October 2018. The Assam police have been given orders to arrest the bandh supporters. Traders have been asked to keep their shops and business establishments open, failing which their trade licences will be cancelled. Educational institutions have been asked to remain open and transport facilities should function normally.

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