The momentum against the highly contentious Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens is taking over different cities across India, with young people at the forefront of the movement.
While several students faced violent crackdowns by the police at universities like Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, others are facing social media censorship. Reportedly, following the massive protests in Bengaluru which began December 15 onwards, several accounts sharing protest information were allegedly taken down by social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
One such account was of the young student Amulya from Bengaluru. Her Instagram account was taken down after which she resorted to the dating application Tinder to share information on the ongoing protests and to rally for support.
Speaking to NewsClick, she said, “Initially, I was sharing protest related information on my Instagram handle, however, that was taken down owing to “sensitive content.” Not only that, another account was also brought down by the application. As a result, I was using my dating profile at Tinder. To redirect people to the protest information account at Instagram, I used a protest-related display picture and also a bio to engage with more and more people on the platform.” She received massive response for her innovative idea, with many engaging with her over the application. Mentioning the profiling and the crackdown, Amulya stated, “The point is to resist as much as we can and take the message far, and to gain more and more support for the movement.”
Interestingly, her Tinder account has also been taken down recently, however, she is now using another dating application, Bumble, to keep her resistance on.
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Following the protests by young students and their mobilisation efforts, the HRD Ministry has asked educational institutions to monitor Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp profiles of students and teachers to keep the government updated about the activities happening within the campuses. The report also stated that the government has sent the order to registrars and vice-chancellors of central universities and technical institutions — Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the Indian Institutes of Management and the National Institutes of Technology (NITs), among others. The government has also reportedly informed the administration of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Jamia Millia Islamia, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), and Delhi University, where the students are holding several protests against the CAA.
Meanwhile, in Delhi, police have been filming major protest events in the city, the footage of which is being fed to Automated Facial Recognition System (AFRS) to extract “identifiable faces” of the protesters that can be added to its dataset. Once extracted, say sources, the lot is manually screened to identify and retain “habitual protesters” and “rowdy elements”.
The contentious CAA entitles Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who have been subjected to persecution in the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, to become Indian citizens if they have been residing in India for six years. The law, however, does not allow Muslims from these countries, persecuted or not, to seek citizenship in India.
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