Women, farmers, students and youth organisations of the Left parties held protests on Saturday in Chennai against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC). The Chennai Central Railway station and Raj Bhavan witnessed protesters demonstrating against CAA and NRC. They demanded that the central and state governments allow peaceful protests and stop police excesses.
The protesters were detained by the police.
Many other civil society organisations also held protests across the state on the issue.
The Chennai city will also witness a massive protest rally organised by the opposition parties on Monday against the CAA.
The Students Federation of India (SFI), Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), All India Democratic Women’s Association, Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, All India Kisan Sabha staged protests and tried to block trains at the Chennai Central railway station. The police denied permission and prevented the protesters from proceeding further. This led to a commotion and later, detentions.
The protesters accused the government of acting against the secular principles of the country as prescribed in the Constitution. The protesters alleged that the BJP government is marginalising the minority communities as part of the ideology followed by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Rejeesh Kumar, state president of DYFI, said, “The Act is opposed to because of its communal nature. The decision to grant citizenship on the basis of religion is unacceptable and is against the Indian Constitution. The fight is against the Modi government which is trying to destroy the Constitution.”
The SFI members, who staged a protest in front of the Mahatma Gandhi statue in Madurai were also detained by the police. They also condemned the police action on Madurai district president of SFI, who was reportedly attacked and detained for organising the protest.
On the other hand, All India Students Federation, All India Youth Federation, National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) and Tamil Nadu Youth Movement tried to lay siege to the Raj Bhawan in Chennai. However, the protesters were stopped by the police on their way. The protest was led by the senior leader of the Communist Party of India (CPI), R Nallakannu.
The protesters accused the union and state government of betraying the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who have been living in the state for several decades. They also accused the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) of helping the union government to pass several draconian acts targeting the minority communities of the country.
Manjula, state secretary of NFIW, while speaking to NewsClick, said, “The thousands of Sri Lankan Tamil refugees are left with no choice now as the AIADMK government too has supported the bill. We conducted this demonstration to express solidarity with the protesters across the country who are facing police brutality. The Tamil Nadu government has ordered to shut all the colleges—this shows how much scared they are of the students’ protests.”
PUSC TO BOYCOTT GRADUATION CEREMONY
The Pondicherry University Students’ Council (PUSU) has decided to boycott the graduation ceremony scheduled to be held on December 23. The President of India would be attending the ceremony.
Parichay Yadav, president of PUSC, told NewsClick, “We have urged the students to boycott the ceremony and have asked them not to volunteer for any event. Also, we have requested the graduates not to receive the degree from the President and thereby register the disappointment and dissent over the attack on the student community protesting against the CAA.”
THOUSANDS BOOKED FOR PROTESTING
The Chennai police have slapped cases on thousands of people who attended the protest on Thursday. The list included Thol Thirumavalavan, Member of Parliament and leader of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, actor Siddhartha and many others. Carnatic musician T M Krishna was also present during the protest and said, “India cannot be a country of any particular religion. We are a secular, democratic nation and hence this Act should be opposed.” The protest was organised by different civil society organisations in spite of denial of police permission.
The protests against the CAA are continuing in various parts of the state in places like Coimbatore, Vellore, Madurai, Tiruppur and Tirunelveli.