Students and citizens alike are waging protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 across India. The newly amended act, seeks to grant citizenship to the member of six persecuted minorities, except Muslims, from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014. The amendments were approved by both houses of Parliament this week and were signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind on December 13.
The protesting masses across the country have also been subjected to brutal repression by the forces of the state. An indefinite curfew has been put in several places in Assam and Tripura since the evening of December 10, along with a ban on mobile internet services. The internet ban was extended to Shillong on December 13, after the state capital of Meghalaya was thronged by the protesting masses. Massive deployments of troops have been put in place in the Northeastern states to keep the situation under control. So far, reportedly five people have died in the police violence in Assam. Charges under the amended Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act have been filed against Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi, who was arrested on Thursday.
Across the country, students have been at the forefront of the struggle against the Act and have been subjected to police brutalities.
The national capital has been at centre of clashes over the contentious act, as protests escalated at Jamia Millia Islamia when a march resulted in violence unleashed by the police on protesting students on December 13. Then, again on December 15, following another march by the students in the area, police entered the Jamia campus without permission and detained around 100 students, lobbed tear gas shells in several academic buildings and brutally thrashed several others leading to grave injuries. Over 50 students were also detained at the Kalkaji Police station and released later after a spontaneous protest called by student groups from across universities in Delhi alongside civil society members. Following the protest, the detained students were released in the wee hours of Sunday, December 16.
On Monday morning, a group of Jamia Millia students stood shirtless in the bone-chilling cold outside the university gate and formed a human chain to protest against the police action. A group of around 10 students chanted slogans of Inquilab Zindabad (Long Live Revolution) and took out a small march, demanding a CBI inquiry into the "police brutality". Carrying a tricolour, the students also raised slogans against the central government and the Delhi Police.
The students of Delhi University, as a mark of solidarity with Jamia, have declared a complete boycott of semester exams on Monday. Sources said that the students who were sloganeering in front of the Social Science Faculty in DU were attacked by another group of students leading to clashes.
Following the protests, several petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court over the use of excessive force by the Delhi Police. The top court will hear the case on December 17.
Similar scenes were witnessed late last night in the campus of Aligarh Muslim University, where over a hundred students were injured owing to brutal crackdown by the police forces. The students allege that the police used tear gas, guns and lathis to ensure the campus is vacated. Currently, the situation remains volatile.
A massive protest is also ensuing in Lucknow’s Nadwa university. As per reports, hundreds of students of Nadwa University, who were locked within the campus by cops, pushed against the main gates. Students of the Maulana Azad Urdu University also demanded that their exams be postponed.
Around midnight, students at Hyderabad's Maulana Azad Urdu University and the Banaras Hindu University held protest marches. Another major gathering is scheduled to take place at BHU in the evening.
On Monday morning, protesters blocked NH 6 by burning tyres. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee has started a 3-day mega rally in Kolkata to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The rally is to begin at 1 PM near the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar on Red Road and end at Jorasanko Thakurbari. The state is also witnessing a political tussle between the CM and Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar. The governor had earlier stated that the advertisement, in which CM Mamata Banerjee has asserted that NRC and the amended citizenship act will not be implemented in West Bengal, is unconstitutional and a head of government can't use public money for such campaigns.
Meanwhile, trains between West Bengal and the North East have come to a complete halt with the Eastern Railway suspending all its services to the northern region of the state, officials said in Kolkata on Monday.
Eastern Railway (ER) spokesperson Nikhil Chakraborty said no train was running beyond Malda.
Officials said all trains originating from Howrah, Sealdah and Kolkata stations towards north Bengal have been suspended till further notice keeping in mind the safety and security of passengers.
A large gathering of protesters gathered at Bengaluru’s Town Hall to voice their opposition against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on Sunday evening. While there have been many smaller protests in the city over the past few days, Sunday's gathering was the largest in the city so far. Protests were held on Friday in other towns and cities across Karnataka.
In Assam, one of the states where the protests against CAA has been most widespread, the situation remains volatile with curfew still in place albeit with some relaxations. According to reports, the Assam Police has so far arrested 175 people and detained 1,460 protesters for indulging in violent agitations across the Northeastern state. Despite the curfew, thousands of people have been out on the streets protesting against the Act, with massive rallies being organised by the students of Cotton University, Dibrugarh University, Guwahati University and Tezpur Central University across the state.
Under the new law, the Centre could designate him as a “terrorist” without giving him an opportunity to be heard. The peasant leader was arrested in the Jorhat district while he was participating in a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Meanwhile, in other parts of the state, protests continued against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). Thousands joined in a massive protest against the CAA organised by poets, artists, film stars, musicians, intellectuals, choreographers, singers, song writers and others joined by denizens of the city at the Assam Engineering Institute at Chandmari in Guwahati on Saturday.
On Sunday, in a statement released by the Left Democratic Manch, a joint platform of left parties in the state, they have demanded an immediate stop to the ongoing state violence in the state and Rs 20 lakh compensation for the family of the deceased. In the convention where the statement was released, noted social scientist Hiren Gohain also announced that a committee would be formed to take forward the statewide protests.
The Meghalaya Police on Friday used tear gas shells and baton-charged protestors who were allegedly pelting stones in front of the Raj Bhavan in Shillong. Thousands of protestors had marched towards the Raj Bhavan in the afternoon to protest against the amendments made to the Citizenship Act.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala began a joint "satyagraha" on Monday to protest against the Act. State ministers, LDF leaders, Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) leaders are among those taking part in the three-hour-long protest at the Martyr's column in Trivandrum which began at 10 am.
Protest calls have also been given in IIT Madras and IIM Ahmedabad on Monday. Students from IIM Bangalore have also a statement of solidarity to the students of Jamia. The statement also the Prime Minister to ensure a safe space for students to register their protest peacefully.
*This is a developing story.
Modh Imran Khan reports: From veteran dalit leader and former Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi to young former JNUSU president Kanhaiya Kumar joined massive protests against the CAA and National Register for Citizens (NRC) in Bihar.
A massive protest public meeting (rally),addressed by Kanhaiya Kumar and leaders from other opposition parties ,was held at Indira Gandhi stadium in Purnea district against CAA and NRC. It was first such protest meeting in Purnea, a part of Seemanchal, a Muslim-dominated backward region of Bihar.
”We will fight against unconstitutional Act and NRC to protect the poorest of the poor, marginalised and deprived sections of people. We will intensify protests in Bihar and across the country to save constitutional rights given to the people”, Kanhaiya Kumar said.
Shakil Ahmad Khan, Congress MLA from Kadwa seat in Katihar district, part of Seemanchal, said this protest rally was organised by the joint forum against CAA and NRC to mobilise people. “More than expected people participated and raised their hands to oppose and fight against the unconstitutional Act, we are happy to see such a big support against CAA and NRC” Khan said.
For BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Seemanchal is a priority area as the concentration of Muslim population is highest there, and BJP has so far failed to make much inroads in the region. In the Seemanchal region, Muslims account for 70% of the population in Kishanganj, 38% in Purnea, 43% in Katihar and over 42% in Araria. However, Muslims only form 16.5% of Bihar's 105 million population, as per the 2011 Census.
Manjhi,vwho heads Hindustani Awam Morcha (a political party) staged a dharna along with his party leaders and workers to protest against CAA and NRC near Mahatma Gandhi statue in Gaya town,d istrict headquarters of Gaya ,on Monday.
There were reports of protest march, dharna and meetings organised against CAB and NRC in Siwan, Gopalganj, Patna, Rohtas and Banka districts on Monday.