Protests have intensified against India’s newly minted Citizenship Amendment Act.
Yesterday (Dec. 15) violent agitations reached the national capital, with Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) turning into a battle ground. The police lobbed teargas shells inside the university campus, forced their way in, and assaulted students, allegedly thrashing them even inside the library and canteen.
While many JMI students were detained, the varsity’s chief proctor, Waseem Ahmed Khan, alleged that the police entered the campus without permission. “Our staff and students are being beaten up and forced to leave the campus,” he told the media persons on Sunday.
The agitations against the new legislation turned violent after a section of protestors allegedly pelted stones at vehicles, torched buses, and damaged public properties.
However, the student groups alleged the involvement of “outsiders” in the violence to purportedly discredit their legitimate protests, the time and venue for which were sanctioned by the police themselves.
Both the JMI authorities and the police denied reports of any death.
Delhi was not alone, though.
Violence was also reported from Aligarh in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Ahmedabad in Gujarat, and coastal Goa. Protesters demanded an immediate withdrawal of the amendment in the Citizenship Act, which provides citizenship to refugees, excluding Muslims, fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan.
The eastern state of West Bengal burnt as protests spilled into the third straight day.
Protestors reportedly vandalised property at three railway stations and set five trains on fire. In Amdanga and Kalyani areas of North 24 Parganas and Nadia, they blocked roads, while Deganga, Domjur, Burdwan, and Birbhum districts also witnessed upheavals.
On Dec. 14, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee requested people to not create disturbances, assuring that her government will not implement the CAA or the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The internet clampdown in the northeastern state of Assam continued. The agitation here first turned violent last week. Curfew was relaxed in Dibrugarh and Guwahati and in some parts of Meghalaya, while a six-hour shutdown was observed in the neighbouring state of Nagaland on Dec.14.
Today, the curfew in Guwahati has been relaxed from 6AM today till 9PM.
Yesterday, the death toll of people injured in police firing on Dec. 12 in Assam rose to four with two more succumbing to their injuries at the Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH).
“Two more people died of injuries in the hospital on Saturday and Sunday. Ishwar Nayak and Abdul Alim were injured in the firing,” said Ramen Talukdar, spokesperson of GMCH.
Assam continued to be on edge since last week over agitations against the CAA. The Assam government had deployed police, paramilitary forces and the army to deal with the protestors.
On Dec. 13, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) filed a petition in the supreme court challenging the amended Citizenship Act.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Aligarh Muslim Unversity (AMU) campus has turned into a warzone.
At least 60 students were hospitalised after the police broke into the campus, leading to a clash, media reports said.
Around 8.30pm yesterday students came out of the Sir Syed gate in solidarity with Delhi’s protesting JMI students. The police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd.
The AMU registrar, Abdul Hamid, informed the media that no classes or examination will be held in the university till Jan. 5. Reports of an internet ban have also emerged, with services in Aligarh shut till Monday 10pm.
Following violence in Aligarh, the entire state of Uttar Pradesh was put on alert, the Hindi language media reported quoting authorities.
Reacting to the violence, prime minister Narendra Modi defended the amendment. Addressing a rally in the northern state of Jharkhand, he accused the opposition of fuelling the violence, adding that this proves the decision to pass the bill was “1,000% correct.”
“They are doing arson because they did not get their way. Those who are creating violence can be identified by their clothes,” he said, which was interpreted as a dog whistle comment referring to the Muslim community.