Hearing and speech-impaired youths join protests in Guwahati
Guwahati: A group of hearing and speech-impaired youth of Assam, including a pageant winner, on Wednesday joined an anti-CAA protest in Guwahati, as people of the state reaffirmed their resolve to counter the legislation with unrelenting spirit.
A large number of protesters gathered in the Latasil playground in the heart of the city at the call of All Assam Students' Union (AASU), whose chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya hailed the solidarity shown by women in the movement.
While AASU leaders and state government employees, who ceased work on Wednesday, made emotive speeches after being detained at Digholi Pukhuri, in the milling crowd was a group of youth who were being given the import of the speeches through sign language.
Among them was Miss India Deaf 2016, Anjala Lahon, who intently looked at the sign language interpreter, and waved her hand whenever people cried 'Jai Ai Axom' (glory to mother Assam).
"We may not be able to hear it or listen to any words, but we understand the pain of our Assamese people, and we are together in this struggle to have the CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) eventually revoked. If it is not repealed, we will continue to protest," Lahon told PTI, with the help of an interpreter.
Besides Lahon, several young men and women under the banner of the Guwahati-based Assam Association of the Deaf turned out for the protest.
Wearing face painting like mime artists, matching black T-shirts and 'gamosas', the young men joined the protesting masses.
One of them had 'Jai Ai Axom' painted on his face while another had 'No CAA', and others had 'Mur Axom Thik Korok (Restore My Assam) and 'No Infiltrators' painted in red on their faces.
General Secretary of Assam Association of the Deaf, T K Sarma, said he had participated in the Assam Movement (1979-85), and the disabled community was coming out in full support because the CAA is "totally against the Accord".
"We can neither hear the rallying cries of our fellow Assamese people nor speak to them, but our heart beats as one. We are all Assamese first and fight this battle till the end," Sarma said. His son Ankur Sarma, who did the sign language interpretation of the speeches delivered during the protests, said the association is one of the petitioners which has appealed to the Supreme Court to revoke the "unjust amendment" to the Act.
"The group of people from our association who joined the protest today, as they all understand the cause we are fighting for. And we hope that this battle won't go in vain," he said.
The father-son duo proudly held out their gamosas and said people of Assam are united in this fight, as they all understand the "Axomiya pride".
"In Assam, we do not discriminate people of one religion from another, as we call ourselves as proud Assamese," T K Sarma said and alleged the Act tries to create that religious divide in the state, and people reject this.
Also among the motley group of protesters could be seen some members of the Sikh community.
Their red turbans stood out in contrast in a sea of gamosas, said Ganesh Das, a social worker who also joined the protest.
AASU's Bhattacharya during his address told the protesters that 'Nari shakti' had given "extraordinary strength" to this movement.
"On December 21, AASU will organise all-women protests in Guwahati at Latasil playground and in rural areas of Assam to drive home our message to people in Delhi," he said.
The three days of 'satyagraha' organised by AASU saw "unprecedented solidarity" from people as they defied curfew and assembled peacefully to register their protest, he said.
"The Supreme Court has spoken today on the appeals, and we are hoping that people's voice will eventually prevail. But, our protests will continue till we achieve your goals," Bhattacharya told PTI.
On Thursday, artistes are organising a protest at Chandmari and AASU will extend its support to it.
"The central government may think that people of Assam will lose their steam and buckle under pressure. But, we are Assamese, and we will continue to fight with unrelenting spirit," the AASU leader said. pti