Citing a Gauhati High Court ruling, Assam Finance and Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the 12-hour shutdown called against the centre's bid to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill today cannot be allowed. In 2013, the court had banned shutdowns or bandhs in the state and called them "unconstitutional and illegal".
Political parties, including the Congress, have extended their support to the bandh, led by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP),
"All shops and business establishments should remain open while government employees must report for their duties or else it will be treated as a contempt of court," he said.
KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi said that this was the first time that they had called a bandh and would not call it off as the very "existence of the Assamese people and their identity is at stake".
Mr Sarma also said that following an assessment of the prevailing law and order situation in the state, permission will not be granted for the November 17 convention organized by the Citizen Right Protection Forum, Assam (CRPFA), a conglomeration of 26 Bengali organisations, in support of the Citizenship Bill.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before December 31, 2014.