Assam: Videos of police violence at anti-CAA protests viral
Reports of police brutality emerge from Assam as protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act continued on the first day of the new year. In Assam's Nalbari district, protestors who raised black flags at Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal's passing convoy were thrashed and detained. Videos of the incident have gone viral. Meanwhile, Assam's student community has vowed to continue protests against the CAA.
Videos of Wednesday's protests in Nalbari show protestors raising slogans as Sonowal's convoy passed. The unarmed protestors are then seen being chased into bylanes, apprehended and being taken away in police vans. In one of the videos, a policeman is seen lathi-charging a protestor, dragging him towards a police van and eventually walking away from the scene as protestors gathered around.
CM Sonowal was traveling from Guwahati to religious preacher Krishnaguru's ashram in Barpeta district when the protests took place. Demonstrators from the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) waved black flags and shouted anti-CAA and anti-government slogans at the CM's passing convoy at several locations including Kharjara near Nalbari town and near Solmara.
AASU activist Sandan Bezbaruah was critically injured and is receiving treatment at a hospital in Nalbari, Union Organizing Secretary Himan Barman told PTI. Reportedly, AJYCP leaders Hemen Kalita and Dhiraj Kalita were also detained during Wednesday's demonstrations.
Speaking to NDTV about the alleged police brutality, Nalbari police chief Amanjeet Kaur said, "There was only once in the video that a policeman had hit an agitator with a cane once or twice." Kaur added, "There was pushing between the police and the agitator since he was detained. He was resisting to get into the car. There was no baton-charge on anyone else."
The police chief said the protestors were "very close" to the highway, which would have amounted to a security breach to the CM's security. She also said that Section 144 of the CrPC—which bans gatherings of over 4 people—was also imposed in the region.
On Wednesday, members of the Asom Sahitya Sabha staged a sit-in protest at the Sabha's office Guwahati. The protestors had tied black bands over their mouths. Later in the evening, AASU leaders and many prominent personalities also lit lamps at the Union headquarters in the memory of the five people killed in anti-CAA protests in Assam in the past month.
On December 30, three AJYCP workers raised black flags in Sonowal's presence during a healthcare center's foundation stone-laying ceremony in Jorhat. The Assamese condemn CAA provisions that expedite the grant of Indian citizenship to illegal immigrants, fearing it would impact the region's sensitive demographic. Anti-CAA protests have been rampant in Assam since last year. The protests intensified after the legislation was passed last month.