- Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said violence in Assam had abated to a large extent
- Police were not enforcing restrictions in the state for now, he added
- Mr Mahanta said initial peaceful protest was hijacked by "bad elements"
Assam Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta on Friday said that while violent protests against the amended Citizenship Act have largely subsided in the state, the police are keeping a strict vigil to ensure that the situation does not go out of control again.
"We are on our way to peace. Today is a much better day, but we will keep a tight vigil. We have our duties in place, and our teams are working tirelessly. It is a tough time, but we are working on it," he told NDTV.
Mr Mahanta, however, claimed that the police were not enforcing restrictions on the people for now. "Today, we decided against keeping a tight leash on the situation. People are being allowed to come out and buy household goods," he said, adding that Internet connectivity will be brought back once the situation returns to normal.
Assam's Guwahati had witnessed largescale violence on Thursday, with many defying curfew orders to protest the amended Citizenship Act. The day ended with two protesters dying in police firing, and over a thousand taken into custody. Today, thousands answered a call from the All Assam Students Union to converge on Chandmari playground and undertake a mass hunger strike.
Mr Mahanta, who was promoted to the post after the violence began, told NDTV that the initially peaceful protest in Assam was hijacked by "bad elements". "They were enjoying, having fun. Bad characters were trying to have a field day," he said, but added that things would get better from Saturday.
He said that while the police does not like to crack down on the people, certain situations leave them with no choice. "We take strong action only if people defy us to the extent where law and order is threatened," he said. "But we have been able to poinpoint who these people are, and who instigated the violence. We have caught hold of a lot of them, and the others won't be spared either."
Meanwhile, protests against the Citizenship Act -- which aims to expedite citizenship for non-Muslim migrants from three neighbouring countries -- continue unabated across the country. While police used batons and tear gas shells to quell an unruly mob at Shillong in Meghalaya, protesters set fire to a railway station complex in West Bengal's Murshidabad district. Even the national capital witnessed violent protests, with students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University clashing with the police.