Army columns had been deployed in the Indian north-eastern states of Assam and Tripura to control the outraging protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed from Parliament earlier this week and became an Act with President Ram Nath Kovind giving his assent on November 12.
Curfew was imposed in Dibrugarh for an indefinite period as protesters targeted the houses of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union minister Rameswar Teli in the district. As tens of thousands of anti-Citizenship Bill protesters descended on the streets of Assam last week, clashing with police and plunging the state into chaos of a magnitude unseen violence since the violent six-year movement by students that ended with the signing of the Assam Accord, Guwahati was placed under curfew.
Uplifting the curfew and in a wake of the situation getting better, Army Commander Lt Gen Anil Chauhan on 17 December expressed hope that military columns deployed in Assam, the epicentre of protests over the citizenship law, would return to barracks in a day or two as the situation in the state was “fast-improving”.
He stated “it was the prerogative of the state administration to seek assistance of the Army to restore law and order, after having failed to handle a situation. Over the past three days, Army columns were deployed not just in Assam but also in Tripura. Some were kept on standby in Meghalaya, but were not deployed.”
Chauhan further stated at Fort William, the headquarters of Eastern Command, “Up until day before yesterday (Saturday), there were about 24 columns in upper Assam and 12 in lower Assam. On the ground, however, just eight columns carried out flag marches. The numbers then dropped to four or five. This indicates how fast the situation is improving… Hopefully, in a day or two, we should be back in the barracks and the civic administration back on its feet.”