Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Friday blamed the opposition Congress and “communal forces” for the widespread violence in the state over the last two days, saying strong action will be taken against those who resorted to arson and vandalism during the anti-citizenship bill protests.
Mr Sonowal also said the violence was part of a political conspiracy against the BJP-led government in Assam, and asserted that he was committed to protecting the rights of the indigenous people of the state. “The Congress and some communal forces are behind the violence. Even some ultra-left elements joined the mob. It is a political conspiracy,” he told PTI.
The chief minister said the government will not tolerate any violence and strong action will be taken against anyone who is involved in vandalism. “No one, who is involved in violence, will be spared,” he said.
Mr Sonowal’s comments came after two days of continuous violence by a section of protesters in the state against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which was approved by Parliament on Wednesday and got the presidential assent Thursday night.
Frenzied mobs blocked roads in different parts of Assam with burning discarded tyres and menaced commuters by bludgeoning their vehicles with sticks and stones. Two railway stations were torched while houses of several legislators, including the private residence of Sonowal, were attacked by mobs.
The Chief Minister said that while his government has no problem with non-violent democratic processes, those indulging in vandalism by taking advantage of the protests will be dealt with sternly. “I am committed to protecting the rights of the indigenous people and want to assure that the interests of the indigenous people will not be harmed. Some people are trying to spread wrong information to mislead people and aggravate the situation. I appeal to everyone not to do anything that will disturb the peace,” he added.
Mr Sonowal also asked people of the state not to worry about the amended Citizenship Act, saying that their traditional culture, language, political and land rights will be protected through Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. He said a committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of Justice Biplab Sarmah (retd), who has been given the task of preparing recommendations for ensuring the constitutional safeguards of the people of Assam.
The central government has categorically stated that the recommendations of the Clause 6 committee will be fully implemented, the chief minister said.
Two persons were killed in police firing in Assam’s Guwahati on Thursday to quell protests against the contentious Act, with thousands descending on the streets in defiance of a curfew. Besides Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Tezpur and Dhekiajuli were placed under indefinite curfew.