Some local news channels reported that the curfew has been relaxed from 6 am to 1 pm in Guwahati, but an Assam Police spokesperson later said there was no such order.
People trying to stock up essentials faced trouble as long queues were seen in front of grocery stores, automated teller machines and petrol pumps in Guwahati where an indefinite curfew is on for the second day in a row, but people seem to hardly care about it. However, goods in the stores, cash in ATMs and fuel in petrol pumps are vanishing fast on Friday and several items are being sold at exorbitant prices and several people are blaming the government for their plight.
“I purchased one kilogramme of potato for Rs 80! Other essential items have also become expensive. We are seeing this day because we elected this government,” Numal Kalita told PTI while shopping at Choy Mile market here. It is very unfortunate that they are working in an autocratic manner and not listening to the people, he said. A rumour of lifting of the curfew also pushed people outside to procure goods.
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“For the last two days, there was no milk and bread at home. Rice was also getting exhausted. Thankfully, the shop was open today and I could buy some items,” senior citizen Namita Lahkar said. Lahkar rushed to her neighbourhood grocery shop after watching the news of lifting of the curfew this morning.
Some local news channels reported that the curfew has been relaxed from 6 am to 1 pm in Guwahati, but an Assam Police spokesperson later said there was no such order. However, a large number of people could be seen in the streets of the city despite the curfew and many of them are buying poultry products and fish. People also queued before ATMs across the city to withdraw cash, but most of the machines have dried up.
Citizens are also running from one petrol pump to another to refuel their vehicles. A journalist has even gone to neighbouring Meghalaya, almost 30 kilometres away from here, to get petrol, but in vain. “As all the depots in Guwahati are closed, I decided to try my luck Byrnihat in Meghalaya. I requested many depots that I am from the media, but all expressed helplessness citing strict orders from police not to sell fuel,” he said. Finally, he got petrol in a pump here, but only after a two-hour-long wait. People are stranded at the Guwahati airport, inter-state bus terminus and railway stations and the authorities have started distributing food packets, drinking water and medicines among them, official sources said.
“I am waiting here since morning. I have to reach home at Nagaon by tonight as my sister is getting engaged on Sunday. But there is no public transport,” Khagen Bora said while waiting at Khanapara here to go to his home town Nagaon, 120 km from the state capital. Assam has been on the boil for the past several days as thousands of people have come out on the streets to protest against the amendment of the Citizenship Act.
Two persons were killed in police firing in the state on Thursday and public properties such as rail stations, a post office, a bus terminus were set ablaze or ransacked. After the Rajya Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the state erupted in uncontrolled protests, in which agitators engaged in pitched battles with the police in almost every major city or town, forcing the administration to impose curfew. Several towns and cities were placed under indefinite curfew, including Guwahati, the epicentre of protests, besides Dibrugarh, Tezpur and Dhekiajuli. Night curfew was imposed in Jorhat, Golaghat, Tinsukia and Charaideo districts.