CAA Protests Mark Bhogali Bihu Celebrations in Assam
CAA copies burnt before the community feasts
GUWAHATI: Protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) were reflected in the celebration of Uruka and Bhogali Bihu, the festival of feasts, in Assam. During Bihu, people take part in a community feast among other activities related to food and frolic.
Bhogali Bihu is one of the three bihus that Assamese people across the globe celebrate. Bihu is the most popular festivals of the state which is celebrated by people of all the faiths in the state.
On Uruka, the bihu eve, people take part in community feast in the neighbourhood on the open fields after the harvest period is over.
But this time, the widespread protest against the CAA could be seen in the celebrations. Many in the state burnt dummy copies of the act before the feast as a mark of protest.
All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), the leading students’ body of the state which had appealed tothe people to continue their protest even during the festivals, also burnt copies of the Act.
“We will celebrate our festivals but will not stay away from staging our opposition to the CAA. CAA is a threat to the indigenous people of Assam and all the northeast states. So, we will continue doing that,” AASU chief adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya said.
Assam has witnessed widespread protests against the CAA which endorses citizenship to the non-Muslim migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan with a cut off date of December 31,2014. Here in Assam most of the organizations and individuals have accepted the cut off date as March 24,1971 as per the Assam Accord to identify illegal foreigners.
For the people of Assam, they are not willing to welcome any migrants irrespective of religion, caste and creed after 1971.
“We have already accepted the burden of migrants for two decades from 1951 to 1971. Why does the BJP government want to push to our doom? The CAA will destroy our identity, culture and language. We don’t want anyone from Bangladesh now,” said Hiren Deka, a retired school teacher in centre Assam’s Nagaon district after burning a dummy copy of the CAA with ‘Meji’ on Wednesday morning.
The Bihu revellers burn traditional ‘Mejhi’ (a structure made of bamboo and straw) to chase away the evils or negativity and pray for the better future.
“This time we have not been able to celebrate Bihu with joy. We are not in a state of mind to celebrate it that way. We are just observing the traditional rituals,” said Chayanika Gogoi, a college student in Tinsukia.
The protests have been continuing for more than a month in this part of the country. At least five persons have been killed in December when violent protests took place in the state.
Other northeast states are also opposing the CAA. However, with the Inner Line Permit (ILP) and Sixth Schedule area provisions in place, the other NE states are said to be exempted from this act.