Tuesday, Mar 21, 2023

Anti-Citizenship Law Demonstrations Swell Across India, But Who Is Protesting For What?

Anti-Citizenship Law Demonstrations Swell Across India, But Who Is Protesting For What?

People in Assam are battling for the identity of the indigenous, their language and tradition, while students at Jamia Millia Islamia protest against the Act, which they say is against the 'grain of constitution'.

Policemen stand guard near Jamia Millia Islamia following the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act, in New Delhi. (PTI)

Protests against the amended Citizenship law rage across India, with Universities and colleges in Delhi, Hyderabad, Lucknow and Aligarh now at the forefront of demonstrations.

While the states in the northeast, particularly Assam, are battling for the identity of indigenous people, their language and tradition,  students at Jamia Millia Islamia protest against the Act, which they say is against the "grain of constitution" and targets a "particular community." 

On Monday, the curfew, imposed in the wake of major protests in Assam, was relaxed between 6 am to 8 pm by the administration.

However, internet services will remain suspended in at least 10 districts of the state for the next 24 hours, PTI reported.

In West Bengal, the protesters set ablaze trains to express their anger against the amended law and have been opposing the Centre's proposal to implement a nationwide NRC. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has categorically said that she won't allow the NRC to be implemented in the state. At the same time, Banerjee has appealed to the people not to resort to violence. 

In another unique protest, 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 controversial law.

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 which began at 10 am.

Protests on University campuses:

On Sunday, police entered Jamia campus, lathi-charged students, and hurled tear gas shells inside the campus, after protests near New Friends Colony turned violent, following vandalism by some "miscreants". Students outrightly denied their involvement, saying they were peacefully protesting on the designated spot.

The violence at Jamia was followed by a police crackdown on students of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) who had been protesting against the controversial law and National Register of Citizens (NRC) ever since the first wave of demonstrations took off.

But violence on Jamia campus last night led to protests across Universities in India, with students from BHU, Delhi University, IIT Bombay, Jadavpur University in West Bengal and other institutions taking to roads in solidarity.

JNU, BHU, Jadavpur University and IITs stand in solidarity: 

On Sunday, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students joined their compatriots in Jamia outside the police headquarters at Delhi's ITO to protest the police assault.

There were angry demonstrations at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi and the Jadavpur University in Kolkata with demands that the government take action against police "hooliganism".

"Crackdown is a very small word to be used for what happened in Jamia yesterday. This is clear hooliganism. Videos of policemen smashing bikes and beating students are all over social media. The government must fix accountability for this," said a PhD student at BHU.

Ridhima Dua, a Jadavpur University student, asked how teargas could be used inside a closed compound.

Students from the Tata Insitute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai also protested on the streets shouting slogans such as "Shame on Delhi Police".

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In Chennai, students of the Indian Institute of Technology-Madras, too, called for a protest.

Several Delhi University students on Monday boycotted exams and held protests to express solidarity with students of Jamia Millia and AMU, following which heavy force was deployed at the Arts Faculty.

Sources said students from the English department of the varsity had written to their professors on Sunday night to postpone exams owing to the situation in Jamia but their request could not be considered.

The Home Ministry has said that they are in constant touch with the police on the ground. "We are in constant touch with the Delhi Police and monitoring the situation. However, so far no report has been sought on Sunday's incidents," a home ministry official said.

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