With the situation in Jammu and Kashmir improving, the Central government is withdrawing paramilitary troops from the valley. But there is a new hotbed of unrest at present. As protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which is being debated in Parliament heat up in the Northeast, 5,000 paramilitary personnel are being sent to the region.
Ten companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been moved from Jammu and Kashmir to Assam. According to sources, as many as 20 CRPF companies may be sent to Assam from Jammu and Kashmir. A special train has also been started to help security personnel reach Assam conveniently.
Three Army columns have been requisitioned by the civil administration so far in Tripura and Assam, the Indian Army said on Wednesday. The Army said that two columns have been deployed in Tripura while a third column (to be deployed in Assam) is on standby.
The approx strength of one column is about 70 personnel. Army said Field Commanders and Army Headquarters are monitoring the situation closely.
Internet services will be suspended from 7 pm on Wednesday in 10 districts of Assam for 24 hours, state government officials said. This is to prevent misuse of social media in disturbing peace and tranquility, and to maintain law and order.
Internet services will be suspended in Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (Metro) and Kamrup, according to a notification issued by Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Political Department) Kumar Sanjay Krishna.
One Army column has been deployed in General Area Kanchanpur while a second column has been deployed in General Area Manu, Tripura. A third column requisitioned at Bongaigaon, Assam, is on standby about a kilometre short of the area of deployment and will be deployed if required.
The Centre on Wednesday airlifted 5,000 paramilitary personnel to the northeastern states from various areas. Nearly 20 companies (2,000 personnel) have been withdrawn from Kashmir, where they had been sent prior to the abrogation of Article 370. The 30 other companies consist of troops withdrawn from other places who are now being rushed to the Northeast, officials said.
"The MHA has cancelled the order of induction of seven CRPF Companies to Manipur on the operational ground and these Companies should be released to the Government of Assam for Law and Order duty on the arrival of the special train at Dimapur," an official communication, accessed by ANI states.
The Assam Police on Wednesday resorted to lathi-charge on protesters in Dibrugarh city while they were demonstrating against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019. Police fired tear gas shells and baton-charged protesters, who fought back.
Tens of thousands of protesters in Assam took to the streets in protest, clashing with police and plunging the state into chaos of a magnitude unseen since the violent 6-year movement by students that ended with the signing of the Assam accord.
Though no party or student body has called a shutdown, protesters, a majority of them students, fought pitched battles with security forces in the restive state, including in front of the secretariat, the seat of the BJP government.
As protests continue, PTI quoted the Chief Minister's office to say that Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is stuck at Guwahati airport.
When asked if this was due to the protests in which the roads were blocked by agitating students, the sources curtly said "Perhaps".
Sonowal's convoy later reached the Brahmaputra state guesthouse in the city where he resides, the sources added.
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees who came from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan on or before December 31, 2014.
It was passed with a majority of 311 votes against 80 votes in the Lok Sabha where 391 members were present and voting. The Bill was tabled in the Rajya Sabha by Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday.
(With inputs from agencies)