Hundreds of people gathered in front of Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on December 17 in solidarity with the students of Jamia Millia Islamia, who faced a brutal crackdown by Delhi Police while protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019. In the wake of the unprecedented protest, slogans of Azadi as well as the national anthem echoed in the street as the protesters stood in police presence for over two hours.
“My sister studies in Jamia Millia Islamia. She told me how police lobbed tear gas (shells) inside the campus and even in the library. I am here today to protest against the police brutality on the students of Jamia and Aligarh Muslim University. I am also here for my rights guaranteed under Article 21. I am here for those Hindus who are tribals and live in remote areas and perhaps will be a victim of the CAA and NRC (National Register of Citizens) and lose their citizenship,” says Subui, an ex-student of AMU who’s pursuing LLB from NIRMA University in Gujarat.
“I am here to assert my right to protest in a democracy. I am here because we should have the right to protest whether it is CAA, NRC or what happened in Delhi in the last couple of days,” said Aarti, another student.
Demanding strict action against the police personnel responsible for the brutality on the students of Jamia and AMU, Farhan, a businessman based in Ahmedabad, said “We are here to express our solidarity with the students in Delhi and everywhere else where they have been subjected to police brutality. We also demand that action be taken against those police personnel who have attacked students at behest of a political party.”
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The protest was organised after the police gave permission to gather peacefully for two hours in the evening. On December 16, police had detained about 60 people for protesting against CAA and NRC without permission in front of IIM, Ahmedabad.
Abhishek Khandelwal, a 24-year-old law graduate from NIRMA University and a resident of Hisar, Haryana, who had been standing in protest every day since December 16 moved an application for permission to protest.
“I have been standing here everyday since December 16 and police would ask me to move and come back with permission. I finally got the permission to protest for two hours today,” said Khandelwal.
“I am happy that people of Ahmedabad has turned out in such huge numbers to stand here in protest today,” he added.
Some of the prominent civil rights activist who participated in the protest included Noorjahan Diwan, Dev Desai, Ghanshyam Shah, Nirjhari Sinha, Hemant Shah, Neeta Vidrohi, Mudita Vidrohi. Independent MLA Jignesh MLA and Congress MLA Naushad Solanki.
Students from various colleges and educational institutes like National Institute of Design (NID), Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University (PDPU), St Xavier’s, Nirma University, Gujarat National Law University, LD Arts College, Central University of Gujarat (CUG) and several private engineering colleges participated in the protest.
“We came to protest here (Ahmedabad) as we feel strongly against the Act and that there cannot be an Act (which discriminates) on the basis of religion,” said a student of Vadodara, who requested to stay anonymous.
Noticeably, five students of faculty of Fine Arts at MS University Vadodara were arrested after they were accused of defacing a wall outside office of the police commissioner. The wall was scribbled with slogan “NO CAB” and images of lotus and the Nazi symbol.
Independent MLA Jignesh Mevani who joined the protest stated, “There might be crores of poor people who might not have documents to prove their citizenship. The soul of the freedom movement was to make this country into a secular democracy hence we cannot let the Act divide people on the lines of religion.”