12-hour bandh affects life in Assam

To protest against a bill that seeks to grant Scheduled Tribe status to six ethnic communities in the state, union of tribal organisations called a 12-hour bandh in Assam on January 11th where protesters burnt tyres and kept tree trunks on roads to block movement of vehicles.

The bandh has been called by the Coordination Committee of the Tribal Organisations of Assam (CCTOA) to protest a bill that seeks to grant Scheduled Tribe (ST) status to six ethnic communities in the state. It was almost total in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) such as Kokrajhar, Udalguri, Baksa and Chirang, Bongaigaon, besides in tribal-dominated areas of Morigaon, Nagaon, Hojai, Dima Hasao and Karbi Anglong districts.

Police declared that bandh supporters attempted to block movement of vehicles on National Highways and other roads by burning tyres and laying tree trunks in the early hours of the strike and trucks were stranded on NH-36 at Doboka. Shops, markets, educational institutions, banks, private offices remained closed, while vehicles kept off the road. Attendance in government offices was thin due to absence of public transport in the bandh-hit areas, police adding that the band had no impact in the state capital.

Security arrangements were stepped up in view of the bandh in Assam which is also witnessing massive protests over the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The general strike comes close on the heels of an 11-hour strike called on Tuesday against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Bandh sponsors have criticised the BJP-led Central government’s move to pass the Constitution Scheduled Tribes Amendment Bill, stating that it would eliminate the genuine tribal people of the state.

The Constitution Amendment Bill that seeks to accord ST status to six ethnic groups was tabled in Lok Sabha on 09 January. The six ethnic groups include; Koch-Rajbongshis, Tea Tribes/Adivasis, Tai Ahoms, Morans, Motoks and Chutia.

The bandh is also supported by many unions and associations such as Dimasa Students Union, Hmar Students Association, All Biate Students Association, Hrangkhol Students Association, All Dimasa Students Union, Khasi Students Union, and Karbi Students Association.