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11 Dec 2019 | 11:24 PM UTC

India: Transport disruptions due to anti-CAB protests in Assam December 12 /update 3

Transport disruptions reported across Assam amid anti-CAB protests December 12; heightened security presence and associated disruptions expected

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Event

Activists opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) defied an indefinite curfew in Guwahati (Assam state) to protest in the streets on the morning (local time) of Thursday, December 12. Local authorities had implemented the curfew from 18:15 on Wednesday, December 11, and suspended internet services for 24 hours from 19:00 in Lakhimpur, Tinsukia, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jordhat, Golaghat, and Kamrup districts following violent protests. The army reportedly carried out a flag march through Guwahati on Thursday morning, and local media outlets report heavy police blockades throughout the city. Authorities additionally suspended internet services in Tripura state for 48 hours since 14:00 on Tuesday, December 10, where the army has also deployed.

Several domestic airlines announced flight cancelations to and from several airports in Assam on Thursday following government orders. Airline representatives anticipate disruptions through to Sunday, December 15. Railway representatives warned of disruptions throughout Assam after protesters set fire to Chabua and Panitola railway stations on Wednesday. At least 31 trains have either been canceled or diverted as of Thursday morning. 

A students union has called for a protest in Guwahati at 11:00 on Wednesday. Organizers did not immediately announce an exact meeting location. 

A heightened security presence and localized telecoms, transportation, and business disruptions are expected across Assam state in the coming hours and days. Further protests are likely, including in other states across India; clashes between protesters and police cannot be ruled out.

Context

The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), which seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, was originally introduced in 2016. It was tabled, however, due to widespread protests denouncing the legislation. Opponents claim the legislation is in violation of the constitution, which prohibits religious discrimination against citizens.

The Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) passed the CAB legislation on December 9, while the Rajya Sabha (upper house of parliament) passed the bill on December 11.

Advice

Individuals in Assam and Tripura, and in India more generally, are advised to monitor developments, avoid all protests and demonstrations, prepare for transportation and business disruptions, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.