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Left, Other Parties Commemorate 3rd Death Anniversary of 5 Anti-CAA Assamese Protesters

The Coordination Committee Against CAA alleged that the government is trying to erase the deaths from public memory.
Noted Assamese scholar and social scientist Hiren Gohain addresses the Coordination Committee Against CAA meeting in Guwahati on Monday.

Noted Assamese scholar and social scientist Hiren Gohain addresses the Coordination Committee Against CAA meeting in Guwahati on Monday.

The Coordination Committee Against CAA held a memorial meeting at Lakhidhar Bora Khetra, Guwahati, on the third death anniversary of the state’s five youths who died during the statewide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, on Monday. Several other organisations held meetings and demonstrations to reiterate the demand for repealing it. 

Massive protests erupted against the Act in Assam and other Northeast states three years ago. The government resorted to police brutality to suppress the protests and imposed curfews and shut off the Internet. On December 12, 2019, protesters Dipanjal Das and Sam Stafford died in police firings. In total, five protesters, including Ishwar Nayak, Abdul Alim and Bijebdra Panging, died during the anti-CAA protests in the state.

Noted politician-activist and Swaraj India chief Yogendra Yadav also participated in the meeting, which was presided over by famous Assamese scholar and social scientist Hiren Gohain. The Committee is a collective of Left forces, including CPI, CPI(M) and CPI(ML), and Raijor Dal, Asam Jatiya Parishad, TMC, LDP and the Congress. Representatives of all the organisations and parties were present at the meeting. 

Assam protested even against the CAB (Citizenship Amendment Bill) and continued the protest after the Bill was adopted as an Act. Since 2016, the people of Assam have been continuously protesting it. Assam’s diverse demography cannot accept this divisive Act,” Yadav said. 

Even the martyrs represented Assam’s diversity—a tribal, a Muslim, an Adivasi, a Christian and an Asomiya. The police’s bullets painted a canvas coloured by the blood of Assam’s diverse population,” he added.

Nayak’s brother Paremeshwar told Newsclick that the people are with “us in our fight for justice for the martyrs. We thank Gohain sir and others organisations present here for their unwavering commitment. They have constantly supported us. We urge other parties and organisations to unite and give a decisive fight to the present regime”.

One of Stafford’s relatives too thanked the Committee, the Left parties and Gohain for “keeping their word and supporting us in the fight for justice. We hope justice will be delivered. But there is a need for greater unity to fight the BJP. A united fight will defeat the regime”.

Highlighting the specificity of the anti-CAA movement in Assam, Yadav said, “The massive countrywide demonstrations against the CAA were painted as protests on the Hindu-Muslim binary in the rest of the country. But Assam was different. The binary was not at all present here. People irrespective of their religions protested the CAA. The main concern in Assam was to save the language, culture and ethnicity.”

The BJP was “more disturbed by Assam’s protests than the Hindu-Muslim binary in demonstrations elsewhere”, Yadav added.

Gohain highlighted how the government is “trying to portray the killings as justified by saying that the protests were violent and the deceased attacked the police”. 

Isfaqur Rahman, a CPI(M) central committee member and part of the secretariat of the party’s Assam committee, alleged that the BJP is trying to “wipe out the protests from public memory”. “However, it is not that easy,” he told Newsclick.

Rahman also highlighted how the “government has played foul” with the Assam NRC published in 2019. “The Assam NRC was published following the Supreme Court’s direction but surprisingly the RGI (register general of India) office has not come out with a notification yet. Is there any hidden agenda of the government?” he questioned. While the Centre proposed updating the NRC across the country, it opposed the one published in Assam.

We don’t want an NRC at the national level. But in Assam, the NRC was a collective mandate in accordance with the Assam Accord. The constitutional provisions of challenging and applying for citizenship for people whose names were absent in the NRC have to be implemented properly through the FT (Foreigners Tribunal). But 200 officials from the FTs in Assam were sacked. What is the government’s motive?” Rahman asked. 

Raijor Dal general secretary Rasel Hussain told Newsclick that the people of Assam are “not going to forget the killings despite the government’s attempts to erase them from public memory”.

The issue is still alive in the hearts of the people and nobody will support CAA even today. If the BJP tries to implement it, then similar protests will erupt in Assam and other parts of the Northeast. During those days, our leaders and activists were tortured and jailed. Our present president Akhil Gogoi was slapped with charges by the NIA and tortured. But the people supported him and he was eventually acquitted by the court,” he added.

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