The influential All Assam Students' Union (AASU), which is spearheading the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, on Friday accused Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal of "surrendering before the Delhi leadership" and vowed to continue a "non-violent mass movement" against the contentious legislation.
Chief Adviser of AASU Samujjal Kumar Bhattachaya also claimed that President Ram Nath Kovind has "violated the Constitution" by giving assent to the "communal bill", which was passed by the Parliament on Wednesday.
"Our stand is clear. We will not accept, never accept the new law. The MPs have voted in favour of the bill but people of Assam have rejected it through a mass movement," he told PTI.
Bhattacharya, who is the key person mobilising people across Assam against the controversial legislation, said the only way to fight "this injustice" is through a struggle and fight which has to be non-violent and disciplined.
"Violence has to stop. There is no place for violence in protests. Some people are trying to give a colour of violence. If someone indulges in violence, the government will get the opportunity to end the movement. We appeal to people to stop violence. All protesters should be guarded against violence. Otherwise we will not be successful. It has to be a non-violent movement," he said.
Two persons were killed in police firing after frenzied mobs blocked roads in different parts of Assam, burned discarded tyres and menaced commuters by bludgeoning their vehicles with sticks and stones.
Two railway stations were torched while houses of several legislators, including the private residence of Sonowal, were attacked by mobs.
It was AASU, which led a non-violent agitation against illegal immigrants in 1979-85 and the movement culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985.
Bhattacharya slammed chief minister Sonowal, his once comrade-in-arms, for his support to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, which got presidential assent on Thursday night.
"Sonowal reached the post of chief minister through this type of movement. He should not forget that. Unfortunately, he has surrendered before the Delhi leadership. He has forgotten to speak for the people of Assam. Sonowal has gone silent. Infact, he is trying to misguide people. I want to tell him, don't provoke people," he said.
In 1990s, AASU was led by Sonowal and Bhattacharya as president and general secretary respectively.
The AASU chief adviser claimed that President Kovind has "violated the Constitution" by giving assent to the "communal bill in a hurry".
"The President gave his assent in a hurry. He has violated the Constitution because a communal bill has been given assent. It is a legislation which violates the Assam Accord. We don't expect such a move from the President. It is very unfortunate, it is unconstitutional," he said.
According to the Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 and faced religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but will be given Indian citizenship.