GUWAHATI – Three protesters were killed and many others injured in police firing in Assam’s Guwahati amid a raging agitation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Thursday evening. The incident occurred even as thousands of protesters descended on the streets in defiance of a curfew imposed on the city after the parliament cleared the contentious legislation on Wednesday night.
Earlier today, the government had extended the suspension of Internet services in 10 districts of Assam for another 48 hours, and deployed army personnel in four areas where clashes between protesters and police were witnessed.The residences of several politicians, including Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union Minister Rameswar Teli, were attacked by protesters as violence continued unabated.
The state continued to be in flames on Thursday as anti-Citizenship Amendment Bill protesters set ablaze the house of an MLA, torched vehicles and burnt down a circle office as the state government removed two key police officers including the Guwahati Police Commissioner.
The Army conducted flag march in Guwahati, while the authorities extended the suspension on internet services across the state for another 48 hours from 12 noon on Thursday, even as most airlines cancelled flights to and from Dibrugarh and Guwahati, and train movement was halted.
Munna Prasad Gupta was appointed the new Guwahati police chief replacing Deepak Kumar, while state Additional General of Police (Law and Order) Mukesh Agarwal was also transferred out.
In an appeal to the people, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal called for maintaining peace and calm.
“I assure the people of Assam full protection to ensure their identity as a whole,” Sonowal said in a statement here, urging the masses to “please come forward and create a situation of peace and tranquillity.”
“I hope the people will consider this appeal sensibly,” he said.
Officials said protesters set fire to the house of MLA Binod Hazarika in Chabua and went on a rampage torching vehicles and the circle office.
With the situation worsening, the Army was conducting flag marches in Guwahati where protesters violated the curfew on Thursday morning.
Most flights to and from Guwahati and Dibrugarh have been cancelled by various airlines, while the railways suspended all passenger train services to Assam.
“Indigo Airlines has cancelled one flight to Guwahati from Kolkata. The flights to Dibrugarh are being cancelled by most airlines due to the ongoing protests. However, Indigo will operate a ferry flight to bring back the stranded passengers from Dibrugarh,” an NSCBI Airport spokesperson said.
A Northeast Frontier Railway official said the decision to suspend passenger train operations to Assam and Tripura was taken on Wednesday night in view of the security situation.
A large number of passengers were stranded at Guwahati and Kamakhya with the railways short-terminating long distance trains at Guwahati.