Amit Shah targets Cong, Rahul Gandhi accuses BJP of killing protesters in Assam

Mar 31, 2021 05:08 PM IST

The CAA, which is yet to be implemented, seeks to fast-track citizenship for religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014

Union home minister Amit Shah on Wednesday targeted the Congress for killing protesters during the Assam agitation over 30 years ago, while Congress leader Rahul Gandhi blamed the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for shooting at anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters in the state.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. (ANI)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. (ANI)

“Congress, which fired at protesters during the Assam agitation to oust illegal immigrants, has no right to ask for votes. As if it was not enough, the party is now riding piggyback on Badruddin Ajmal’s All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF). Can a party which joins hands with AIUDF stop infiltration?” said Shah at a rally at Bijni, Chirang district, of Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR).

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Over 800 people were killed in police firing during the six-year-long Assam agitation against illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The Congress was in power in Assam at that time. The agitation, which started in 1979, ended in 1985 with signing of the Assam Accord.

Also Read | In Assam, poll campaign for 2nd phase ends; rain plays spoilsport on last day

Highlighting last year’s Bodo peace accord, which led four Bodo rebel factions to give up arms, Shah promised to implement all its clauses within the next year.

“Five years ago, we promised a terrorism-free, agitation-free Assam and development. We have fulfilled all three promises and have come to seek your blessings again,” Shah said

“Rahul Gandhi, who comes to Assam for a picnic, says Ajmal is Assam’s identity. Can Ajmal be Assam’s identity instead of persons like Srimanta Sankardev, Bhupen Hazarika, Upendra Nath Brahma? Congress may try, but we will not allow Assam’s identity to change,” he added.

Shah listed the schemes and projects launched in the past five years by the Centre and the BJP-led government in Assam for the development of all sectors and for the welfare of all sections.

He also spoke of the 10 commitments made by the BJP for this election, including 1 million government jobs in the next five years and an increase in the daily wages of tea garden workers to 350.

The Union minister addressed two more rallies at Hajo and Sonapur later.

Also Read | Assam polls: Several ministers, deputy Speaker in fray in second phase

On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi spoke of Dipanjal Das, the first of the five persons killed in police firing at anti-CAA protests in December 2019. The Congress leader had met Das’ family at their residence in Chaygaon in December last year.

“Dipanjal was an idea and truly representative of what Assam is. It was not as if one youth was shot at, it felt as if the police (under BJP rule) had fired upon Assam and its people. It was an attempt to murder Assam. I am beginning my speech with Dipanjal, as I feel it’s the most important issue,” Gandhi said, while addressing a rally in Chaygaon.

“The BJP government failed to provide Dipanjal the kind of job he deserved. And when he stood up peacefully for Assam, he was shot dead by the BJP government. That’s why the first of our five guarantees is what Dipanjal stood for i.e. non-implementation of CAA in Assam,” he added. Gandhi addressed another rally at Barkhetri later.

Assam has a history of resentment and apprehension against illegal immigration from Bangladesh. Like the Assam agitation, the spontaneous protests against CAA took place as there were fears and if it were to be implemented, the state will witness an influx of illegal infiltrators.

The CAA, which is yet to be implemented, seeks to fast-track citizenship for religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014. The legislation goes against the 1985 Assam Accord, which set the deadline for allowing immigration from the neighbouring country as March 24, 1971.

While BJP has said that it will stand by its earlier commitment and implement CAA, the Congress has promised to enact a legislation in the state assembly ensuring non-implementation of CAA in Assam.

“I am not here to tell lies. My name is not Narendra Modi who has lied about Assam, farmers and many other things. If you want to listen to lies, turn on the TV, watch Modi’s face and listen to as much lies as possible,” Gandhi said.

The second phase of Assam polls will take place on April 1 while the third and final phase is scheduled on April 6.

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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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