People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


Vol. XXXVII

No. 24

June 16, 2013

 

ASSAM

Thousands Defy Law, Participate in Picketing

Isfaqur Rahman

 

IN response to the call of the Central Committee, the Assam state committee of the CPI(M) organised a series of protest actions in the form of meetings, processions, demonstrations. throughout the state in the second half of May 2013. In the last week of May,  the state witnessed militant actions in the form of picketing in front of the government offices and violation of law for demanding food security and price control, right to land, housesites, education, health and employment, ensured social justice and an end to corruption. Apart from the national level demands, the Assam state unit of the CPI(M) highlighted the pressing problems of recurring floods and erosions in the state and demanded lasting solution to the grave problem. The party also reiterated its demand for updating the National Register of Citizenship (NRC), 1951 at the quickest possible pace by taking 1971 as the cut-off year. The central and state governments as well as all the major political parties and organisations have accepted 1971 as the cut-off year.

 

The picketing programme in the state started with a massive demonstration and picketing in front of the deputy commissionerís (DCís) office at Barpeta on May 15. Around 800 volunteers took part in the protest action.

 

The fortnight long protest actions in Assam culminated in huge demonstrations, picketings and law violations in Guwahati, Dhubri, Bilasipara, Tinsukia and Dhemaji on May 31, the concluding day of the protest programme.

 

The capital city of Guwahati witnessed a rare show of strength and militant protest on May 31 when around five thousand volunteers of the CPI(M)  assembled in the premises of the Lakhmi Ram Baruah Sadan near Dighali Pukhuri and marched towards deputy commissionerís office for mass picketing and demonstration. The slogan shouting volunteers, carrying red-flags, festoons, placards etc., defied police ban and broke the first barricade put up by the police in front of the District Library and marched forward. The protest march was led by the partyís state secretary, Uddhab Barman, and other senior leaders including Hemen Das, Deben Bhattacharyya etc. Almost all the state secretariat and state committee members of the party were in the front line of protest at various places.

 

The protest march started with a brief meeting addressed by state secretary Uddhab Barman. He explained the demands and urged upon the protesters to defy police action and take forward the struggle for alternative policies for addressing the issues and concerns of the mass of the people.

 

When the processionists reached the ĎMeghdoot Bhawaní near the DCís office where a huge contingent of police and paramilitary forces were deployed, a scuffle broke out between the police and the protesters, with the police having put up a huge barricade to prevent the volunteers from advancing. The defiant protesters were, however, firm and determined; they forcefully broke the police cordon and reached the main gate of the DCís office where they tried to organise the picketing. They also held a sit-in-demonstration in the busy Mahatma Gandhi Road in front of the DCís office and organised a road blockade. The entire area reverberated with slogans in favour of the demands like food security, price control, and land to the landless, etc.

 

The participation of a large number of women volunteers was awe-inspiring. Several thousand protesters from the nearby districts of Kamrup, Nalbari, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Darrang, Sonitpur, Nagaon and Goalpara also came and joined the law violation programme at Guwahati on May 31.

 

The district administration was taken aback by the swelling crowd of protesters. The administration was not adequately prepared to deal with the situation and was compelled to arrest the volunteers. They were taken to the Panbazar Police Station and kept in a temporary Ďjailí there. Meanwhile, another batch of around 500 protesters from Rangia and Goreswar area of Kamrup district reached the DCís office and they, too, organised a demonstration and courted arrest. Later, all the arrested volunteers were released without any condition.

 

Protest actions and picketings were also organised at Dhubri, Bilasipara, Tinsukia and Dhemaji on May 31. Road blockade was organised at Kokrajhar town on May 29 where 120 volunteers defied law. At the DCís office in Bongaigaon, picketing was organised on May 20 where 200 volunteers were arrested. In the district of Kamrup, demonstrations and picketings were organised at Goreswar in front of the SDCís office on May 22 and at Rangia on May 23. In both these places, around 1000 comrades participated and violated the prohibitory orders. At Tezpur in Sonitpur district too, a huge protest demonstration and picketing was organised on May 28 wherein around three thousand volunteers participated and courted arrested. At Dhakuakhana in Lakhimpur district, around two thousand people participated in the demonstration and picketing in front of the SDOís offfice.

 

The CPI(M) organised picketings and demonstrations also at Dibrugarh, Naharkatia, Jorhat, Dergaon, Golaghat in Upper Assam, between May 15 and 31. Demonstrations were organised at Hojai, Lanka, Lumding and Rangalu in Nagaon district. In the Barak Valley districts, picketing and demonstrations were organised at Silchar and Karimganj. At the deputy commissionerís office at Silchar, 600 volunteers participated in the picketing on May 30, and 289 were arrested. At the DCís office in Karimganj too, picketing was organised on the same day, May 30, when 750 protesters were arrested. In Goalpara district, a protest demonstration was organised in front of the DCís office on May 29 and 300 volunteers participated.

 

The protest actions in Assam gave a fresh momentum to the whole party in the state and the CPI(M) units worked hard to make the mass picketing and law violation programme a success.