Guwahati: Apprehending that the Citizenship Bill protests could spill over to Republic Day celebrations, the Assam Police Saturday took rigorous steps to ensure that no one carried black cloth to official functions.
Massive protests have erupted in the state against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, and black flags are being shown to the ministers and senior BJP leaders wherever they have been going during the last few weeks.
At the central function of the 70th Republic Day held at the Veterinary College Playground here, multi-layered security was put in place in view of presence of VVIPs like the governor and the chief minister.
Metal detectors were installed at all the entry points and each visitor was frisked.
Besides the normal prohibited items, this time the list of banned items had an addition — black cloth.
The personnel from Assam Police also enquired if anyone was carrying black handkerchief.
“We have been asked to check if anyone carries any black cloth. They are not allowed to carry any black item inside the ground,” an Assam Police constable deputed for security checks at one of the gates told PTI.
He pointed to a heap that included handkerchiefs, mufflers, ladies shawls and head bands, seized from the public going inside to attend the function.
When contacted, senior police officials declined to comment if there was any official communication on banning black clothes at the R-Day functions.
On condition of anonymity, a deputy superintendent of police posted in a district of Lower Assam said there was no official communication from the headquarter, but all precautions were being taken.
“Usually, the National Flag is hoisted by ministers or senior government officials across all districts and sub-divisions. If any untoward incident like showing of black flags takes place, it will be a big security lapse. So, we are taking precautions,” he added.
A series of protests broke out across the state and other parts of North East after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Silchar on January 4 that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would be passed as soon as possible in Parliament.
Black flags have been waved at Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, BJP Assam President Ranjeet Kumar Dass and other ministers across the state to protest against the Bill.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India even if they do not possess any document. —PTI