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By A Newsman

Silchar, 09 August: THE 12-hour shutdown in Hailakandi district in Barak Valley called to protest the alleged discrimination of the Bengalis vis-à-vis the update of National Register of Citizens (NRC) today evoked a total response.

Business establishments, markets, public and private offices remained shut through the day. Only a few motorbikes and police vehicles were out on the streets.

There have been no reports of violence from anywhere in the district and the strike was almost spontaneous throughout Hailakandi. At some places the bandh supporters burnt the effigy of IAS officer Prateek Hajela, who happens to be the state coordination of NRC in Assam.

Police arrested around 100 picketers from various parts of the district headquarters Hailakandi town for blocking the roads. They were released on personal bonds later in the afternoon.

The dawn to dusk shutdown was convened by Progressive Student and Youth Forum ~ a voluntary organisation based in Hailakandi.

The Forum is against the original inhabitant (OI) treatment that is being accorded to a particular section of citizens of Assam in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) update process, while leaving linguistic minorities such as the Bengalis out of its ambit. The update process of the NRC in Assam is on for over a year now.

Several originations in Barak Valley are simmering in anger over the original inhabitant issue alleging that the move is a ploy to create a deliberate division among the citizens of Assam and reduce Bengalis into “second class” citizens. Their anger is mainly directed at the NRC state coordinator Hajela.