Himanta Biswa Sarma
Himanta Biswa Sarma

Guwahati: The Opposition Congress on Wednesday challenged the Assam government to prove that violent protests against the new citizenship law were the result of a "deadly nexus" among a section of Congress workers, "urban Naxals" and Islamic outfit, the Popular Front of India (PFI).

Senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday said there may be a "deadly nexus" among the three that had tried to burn down the state secretariat during the December 11 protests and the NIA has been asked to probe the matter.

Alleging that the BJP-led state government is resorting to a tactic of threatening people to derail the movement, a senior Congress leader said if it failed to prove the "deadly nexus" it should tender an apology.

"Himanta Biswa Sarma is forcefully trying to link the violent incidents with the Congress by naming some of our youth leaders. They were indeed present at the site like many other true Assamese. But does it prove that they were involved in violence?" state Congress president Ripun Bora told a press conference.

The Rajya Sabha MP said the party will move the Assam Human Rights Commission against "wrongfully" picking up Congress workers across the state alleging their involvement in violence.

Bora charged Sarma with toeing the line put forward by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Congress is behind all the anti-citizenship law protests.

"We challenge the government and Himanta Biswa Sarma to prove that the Congress is behind the violence. If any concrete evidence is presented (against any Congress worker), we will take action against that person. Otherwise, Modi and Sarma should apologise for giving a peoples' movement a particular colour," Bora said.

Sarma, also the convener of the Northeast Democratic Association (NEDA), the NDA's version in the region, had said on Tuesday a special investigation team (SIT) has been formed to probe the incidents of violence that rocked the state during protests over the amended Citizenship Act last week.

"The BJP is trying to crush the movement. They are targeting select leaders and arresting them without any FIR or complaint. We condemn the way Akhil Gogoi has been treated - bringing him to the court with handcuffs on," Bora said.

He alleged that the police is threatening Congress workers across the state as the party is leading the anti- citizenship law movement.

"We have met the DGP this morning and asked him to stop harassing Congress workers. We also requested him to probe the killing of four innocent youths in police firing. We will meet the chief secretary also," the Congress leader said.

Bora said the Congress will meet the Assam governor on Thursday and apprise him of the ongoing situation and urge him to "safeguard the Constitution".

"We will also move the state human rights body as our workers and Akhil Gogoi have been targeted. Their human rights were violated. The government is trying to muzzle the strong voice of Akhil Gogoi. We have heard that Gogoi was tortured in custody," he added.

The senior Congress leader also alleged people close to the ruling party are involved in the violence.

"Vehicles were burnt in front of the police. Why is there no arrest? Is it because someone - may be RSS or Bajrang activist - were behind it? The Congress will continue the agitation till the Act is repealed, but we have not indulged in any violence," he claimed.

Bora also hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for commenting that protesters could be identified by the "clothes they are wearing".

Bora alleged that the Assam government is trying to divide the artistes community by "bribing" them as they are on the forefront of this movement.

The state government on Tuesday night announced to provide a one-time grant of Rs 50,000 to 2,000 artistes and technicians.

"The announcement to fill up 55,000 vacancies at this time is also an attempt to keep the youths away from the agitation," Bora said.

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