Over the past few days, protests have erupted in different parts of India including West Bengal, North East, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi against the CAA i.e. Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019. The Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha on December 11, and two days later was given the President's assent on December 13.
The aim of this Act is to amend the definition of 'illegal immigrants' for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian immigrants from countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who have taken refuge in India without proper documentation. Non-Muslim refugees will be given fast-track citizenship in six years making citizenship a matter of faith.
India's National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a citizenship list that is part of the government's effort to identify and weed out people it claims are illegal immigrants in the northeast state of Assam. The government says that many Muslims whose families originally came from neighbouring Bangladesh aren't rightful citizens even though they've lived in Assam for decades.
When the NRC was published in August, around two million people- many Muslims and some Hindus found that their names weren't on the list. They were told that they have limited time to prove that they are, in fact, citizens. If they failed to do so, they can be rounded up into massive new detention camps and ultimately deported. So far, this measure affects potentially two million people, not all 200 million Muslims in India. However, the BJP has said that it plans to extend the NRC process across the country.
Prime Minister, Narendra Modi said that he was deeply disturbed by the protests happening around the country. He said, "Violent protests on the Citizenship Amendment Act are unfortunate and deeply distressing. Debate, discussion and dissent are essential parts of democracy but, never has damage to public property and disturbance of normal life been a part of our ethos."
"The need of the hour is for all of us to work together for the development of India and the empowerment of every Indian, especially the poor, downtrodden and marginalised. We cannot allow vested interest groups to divide us and create disturbance," he added.
Delhi Police PRO, MS Randhawa had a media briefing where he said that around 4:30 PM some protestors went towards Mata Mandir marg and set a bus on fire. He also said that no casualties had taken place and that the police had used minimum force against the students.
However, videos and pictures from the university have surfaced online showing that the police entered the campus by the hundreds and lathi-charged the protesters and used tear gas to disperse them. Allegedly, the police even entered the campus mosque, library, and bathrooms and beat up students who weren't a part of the protests.
The Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, Najma Akhtar, addressed the press on Monday and said that the university would file a complaint against the entry of police into the campus and demanded a high-level inquiry into the incidents that occurred on Sunday.
Students of MCRC, #JamiaMilia -Srijan Chawla and Bhumika Saraswati describe what they saw last evening. Both the girls say students did not indulge in violence. Spoke to them just now at the ongoing protests against #CitizenshipAmendmentAct #CABProtests pic.twitter.com/xlnUqjEfB6— Shweta Bajaj (@ShwetaBajaj) December 16, 2019
"They have destroyed my home, i am a student. I am not safe in my university too now"— All India Mahila Congress (@MahilaCongress) December 16, 2019
A law student from #JamiaMilia breaks down while leaving hostel amid police brutality.
जिन्हें नाज़ है हिंद पर वो कहाँ हैं!! pic.twitter.com/Dt9GIbnRh5
We Indian Muslims hv reached to the point "Either you're with us or against us".— Md Asif Khan آصِف (@imMAK02) December 16, 2019
State has unleashed war against us, it's an attack on our existence.
Those Non-Muslims who joining the protest are our ally.
Now it's Oppressed Vs Fascists regime#JamiaProtest #JamiaMilia pic.twitter.com/6DHoT5YSHd
@DelhiPolice Assault on Jamia:Both d legs of a Jamia student were fractured by the police lathi charge— Mufti Wahiduzzaman Siddequey (@muftiwahidsdy) December 16, 2019
He says that the police told him to run When he said he could not the police continued to beat him.#JamiaProtest #JamiaMilia #ResignAmitShah #StandWithJamia #ShameOnDelhiPolice pic.twitter.com/YjGqNwWfLn
Delhi Police has stuck to their side of the story saying that four buses were burnt and 100 vehicles were damaged in the protests. According to the police, 40 cops including senior officials were injured and one of them was even admitted in the ICU. There was also a video allegedly showing that it was, in fact, police officers who set a bus ablaze during the protests. However, the Delhi police officially denied this as a rumour and urged people not to focus on false news.
Yogendra Yadav, a prominent activist and leader of Swaraj India, said 125 injured people from Jamia had been brought to three hospitals and clinics, and 44 students have been detained at two nearby police stations.
Been in Jamia area for 3 hours now. No standoff between police and people since 8 pm.— Yogendra Yadav (@_YogendraYadav) December 15, 2019
At least 107 persons injured (61 at Al Shafa + 46 at Holy family). No info yet on any critical injury or casualty.
Detained: 28 at Kalkaji, 16 at NFC, but no clarity re other 4 thanas.
Journalist Ritika Jain also posted updates about the students from Jamia who were detained at the Kalkaji Police Station, writing “One student with a head injury went into some kind of epileptic shock and the police rushed him to the hospital. Otherwise, adequate medical attention is not being given to the students.”
A similar crackdown happened in Aligarh Muslim University as well. Students were protesting the lockdown of their fellow students in Delhi and were lathi-charged. Visuals depicted students being prevented from making their way to the streets of Aligarh to protest.
Now, in solidarity with JMI students, university students from around the country have rallied up to protest. IIT Bombay, IIT Kanpur, IIT Madras have all organised a protest in solidarity against the police brutality in Delhi. Students’ Federation of India is conducting protests in Trichy, Coimbatore, and Tiruvallur to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Even Students Council of Pondicherry University called for a protest at 10 am on Monday and urged students to boycott classes. Students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, have decided to boycott their classes in protest of state-sponsored violent clashes. Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) students' union has written to controller of examination over students boycotting exams as a protest against the police action in Jamia and AMU. They have sought postponement of exams.
This is a picture of students from #JamiaMilia holding photos of #Ambedkar & #Gandhi opposing the #CAA2019— Vikrant Massey (@masseysahib) December 15, 2019
We haven’t forgotten our roots.
And we will fight to regain the lost sanity of this proud country 🇮🇳 #StandWithJamia #Delhiviolence pic.twitter.com/gOCh0B7Cnw
On behalf of the students of Jamia & AMU request at least one of you to tweet or message Mr.Modi condemning this act of police brutality and violence against students. The time has come to speak up guys. Yes? No? May be?@RanveerOfficial @karanjohar @ayushmannk @RajkummarRao pic.twitter.com/6l5ky5zbNt— Sayani Gupta (@sayanigupta) December 15, 2019
Lawyers Indira Jaising and Colin Gonsalves requested the top court to look into the violence against students and send retired judges to the two universities to investigate what went down. The Supreme Court is going to hear the case tomorrow and the Chief Justice of India SA Bobde said that the rioting must stop. "Just because they happen to be students, it doesn't mean they can take law and order in their hands, this has to be decided when things cool down. This is not the frame of mind when we can decide anything. Let the rioting stop," he said.
There are protests going on across the country right now against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the brutal crackdown of educational institutions. Whether you are pro it or against it- there is one thing that we must focus on- India is a secular state and we will not let that change. Peaceful protests, as well as dissent, is a healthy part of democracy and those voices will not be silent.
Featured Image: Instagram
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