‘Assam, the new Kashmir’: Congress attacks BJP over citizenship law protests

Senior Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury on Sunday called Assam the ‘new Kashmir’ pointing its ‘strategic importance’ as widespread violent protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) were reported in the state.

Two more people have died in Assam of injuries sustained in firing by police while protesting against the citizenship act, taking the death toll to five in the state.

They were among the 27 protesters who were injured in clashes with the police, who have claimed that some of them had been hit by rubber bullets.

“It is a matter of concern that the entire northeast region, especially Assam, has been engulfed in violence which is certainly detrimental to the safety and security of the nation,” the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha said while speaking to news agency Asian News International.

“Assam is recognised as a strategically important place for the country. On one hand, it is Kashmir valley and on the other, the new Kashmir that is Assam, both have been emerging as a great concern,” the Congress lawmaker said, according to the agency.

The new law grants citizenship to migrants from Hindu, Parsi, Sikh, Jain, Christian and Buddhist faiths fleeing persecution in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. It has roiled the northeast, which has for long demanded protections to safeguard its cultural identity.

Assam’s chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal tried to allay fears and appealed for peace on Sunday as he said that his government was committed to protecting the rights of the people of the state.

“We are committed to protect all genuine citizens and the rights of people of Assam. I call upon all sections of the society to thwart the elements who are misleading the people of Assam on the citizenship act and indulging in violence and together continue the growth journey of Assam,” he tweeted.

Chowdhury also said the passing of the citizenship bill has created disturbance and violence in many districts of West Bengal.

“The essence of deprivation, discrimination has been prevailing upon the minority people of my state, West Bengal. So this has become another area of major concern. I have already requested the state government to take all necessary measures in order to stop the escalation of violence,” he added.

The West Bengal government on Sunday suspended Internet services in some districts of the state as a precautionary measure as protests against the citizenship law continued for the third straight day in the state.

Violent protests against the citizenship act have rocked several parts of the state over the past two days with agitators torching buses, railways stations and vandalising public property.

The amended act has put the entire northeast region and West Bengal on the boil as people fear that it might exacerbate the problem of illegal immigration.

The Congress had stepped up its attack over the amended citizenship act on Saturday as top party leaders accused the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government of trying to divide the country.

Party leader Rahul Gandhi said the northeast was burning after the government’s push for the new legislation while speaking at the Congress’ ‘Bharat Bachao’ rally at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi also hit out at the Centre, saying the citizenship act will “destroy and shred” the soul of India.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed by Parliament earlier this week and become the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his nod.

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