2019: A look back at the Major Stories of Assam
2019 has been a strange year for Assam as regards its political events, sports, entertainment and other spheres of life.
G Plus tried to narrow down the events which made headlines in 2019 and which indeed will leave a lasting impression in 2020.
While the year started with the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill being passed in the Lok Sabha which say the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) calling for an Assam Bandh for the first time in 10 long years, it progressed to the national general elections - the event of choosing our leaders to represent us in the Lok Sabha.
It is to be mentioned that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) swept the Lok Sabha polls in Assam by securing nine of the total 14 seats in the state surpassing its 2014 tally.
In the run-up to the three-phase polls, the party was able to retain Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Gauhati, Lakhimpur, Mangaldoi and Tezpur, besides bagging Autonomous District (ST), Silchar and Karimganj.
It may also be mentioned that in the prestigious Gauhati seat, BJP’s Queen Oja, a former Guwahati mayor, trounced the Congress candidate Bobbeeta Sharma by 3,45,606 votes.
ULFA Bomb Blast
At least six people were injured on the evening of May 15 when a grenade exploded outside a mall on Zoo Road in Guwahati, Assam. Injured persons were taken Gauhati Medical College & Hospital.
Terror group ULFA's faction led by Paresh Baruah had claimed responsibility for the attack.
At least 12 people, including two SSB personnel and a woman, were injured in the grenade blast in front of a shopping mall in the heart of the city.
Two people riding a motorcycle hurled the grenade in front of the shopping mall located at the arterial RG Baruah Road (Zoo Road), just opposite the state zoo around 8 pm.
Later, the Guwahati Police arrested a person acting as a "sleeper cell" of the ULFA and a woman accomplice for their role in the grenade blast.
The police identified the woman as author and actress, Jahnabi Saikia.
The police also recovered 20 kgs of gunpowder, one 9 mm pistol, 25 rounds of live ammunition, ULFA documents, mobile phones and other "incriminating materials" from their rented accommodation at Panjabari locality in the city.
Currently all the accused lodged in the Guwahati Central Jail.
Flood situation in Assam continued to aggravate with many lives lost in the rising waters across the state, which has been under a spell of extremely heavy rainfall this monsoon season of 2019.
The monsoon rainfall wreaked havoc in the famed Kaziranga National Park, killing as many as 209 animals in the 430 square km park situated along the Brahmaputra river. The casualty has been the highest among Hog deers, small deers with unusually large round ears. A total of 111 Hog deers, 18 Wildboars, 17 Rhinos, 12 Sambars, seven Swamp Deers, three porcupine, two water buffaloes and one elephant has drowned in the submerged park.
It is to be mentioned that around 53.5 lakh-plus people were under the flood threat.
Shweta Agarwal murder case
A local court in Guwahati, on August 3, awarded death sentence to a man for burning alive a fellow college student Shweta Agarwal in 2017. The fast-track court of Kamrup also awarded life term to his mother and sister for murder, tampering of evidence and criminal conspiracy.
Sessions Judge Aparesh Chackraborty convicted Govind Singhal, his mother Kamala Devi and sister Bhawani on July 30 for the murder of Shweta, the state topper in commerce stream of class 12 examinations in 2015.
Pronouncing the quantum of punishment, the judge said that Singhal killed the woman in a premeditated cold-blooded manner.
Her charred body was found in the washroom of Singhal's house at Bharalumukh area in Guwahati on December 4, 2017. Singhal and Agarwal were students of the same college and he had brought her to their residence after her exam.
Hima Das wins 5 gold medals
Indian sprinter Hima Das extended her sensational form by claiming her fifth gold of the month as she returned to her pet 400 m competition in the month of July 2019.
It was Hima's fifth gold medal since July 2 when she ran her first competitive race in Europe.
In her first competitive 200 m race of the year, she clocked 23.65 seconds on her way to gold at the Poznan Athletics Grand Prix in Poland on July 2.
After that, she won her second 200 m gold at the Kutno Athletics Meet, also in Poland, on July 7 with a timing of 23.97 seconds.
On July 13, she won her third 200 m gold at the Kladno Athletics Meet in Czech Republic with a timing of 23.43 seconds while her fourth gold came at the Tabor Athletics Meet in the same country.
It was the first competition in 400 m for the 19-year-old from Assam, fondly called the “Dhing Express,” in the 400 m event since she struggled to finish the Asian Athletics Championship in April this year because of a back issue.
Film maker Rima Das wins National Film Award
Director Rima Das’s “Bulbul Can Sing” won the National Award for the Best Feature Film in Assamese in the Regional Language Film Category at the 66th National Film Awards.
The critically acclaimed film also won the Best Indie Film at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne (IFFM) in Victoria, Australia.
The director, speaking to media said, "(I'm) Very happy that Bulbul Can Sing is awarded the National Film for Best Assamese Film. I am all smiles since Shah Rukh Khan broke this news here at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne. Thanks to God and the universe for National Film Award for the second year in a row. May I have the strength to keep making the films that touch people's hearts. Special thanks to my family and the team for their unwithering support and love."
Final NRC Published
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) with individual statuses of all the 3.30 crore applicants was published online in September 2019. All the individuals in Assam, who were a part of the Assam NRC exercise meant to root out the illegal immigrants from the state, were able to check their status on the official website of NRC.
A total of 3,30,27,661 persons had applied for inclusion of their names in the updated list of NRC Assam. However, more than 19 lakh people in Assam were excluded from the final list of the NRC that was released by the government on August 31, while over three 3.11 crore persons were included.
Meanwhile, the state BJP government said that it does not accept the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the final version of which was published on August 31 with over 19 lakh exclusions. "If the Supreme Court accepts our demand of 20 per cent re-verification in border districts, we (Assam) don't need a national one. We are sure lots of mistakes will be found out in the re-verification process," state finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said at a press conference.
Meanwhile, the Assam government had earlier submitted an affidavit in the apex court praying for re-verification of 20 per cent names in the draft NRC in border districts, but the plea was denied.
The passage of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)
The Rajya Sabha, in December 2019, passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which seeks to give citizenship to non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
The Bill had been tabled in the Rajya Sabha by Home Minister Amit Shah.
With a majority of 125 to 99 the Rajya Sabha passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill after a marathon debate that extended for more than six hours.
Meanwhile, Assam and some other parts of the northeast saw violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Protests in Assam against the Citizenship Amendment Bill have seen huge numbers of students joining and were so powerful that the Indian army was called in. Internet services had to be suspended in 10 districts of Assam and curfew imposed in main city Guwahati.
It is to be mentioned that most Opposition parties and a fairly large number of activists have vehemently opposed the Citizenship Amendment Act of the Narendra Modi government.