Citizenship law: Students, opposition step up protests

Demonstrations spread to Kerala, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Assam, West Bengal; SC rejects plea to set up inquiry panel on crackdown in Jamia Milia, AMU
Citizenship law: Students, opposition step up protests

Students, opposition leaders and activists across regions stepped up their protests against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act on Tuesday even as at least 29 persons were arrested for violent clashes over the last couple of days in Jamia Millia Islamia and parts of UP. The Supreme Court rejected plea for setting up an inquiry panel to probe the violence.

Under the new law, all except Muslims who have come fromPakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 and are facingreligious persecution will not be treated as illegal immigrants but givenIndian citizenship.

Fresh cases of violent protests were reported from some places, including in New Delhi and Kerala, while a group of injured Jamia students alleged "barbaric" beatings, abuse and humiliation by the police during their crackdown on those protesting against the new law on Sunday.

Addressing a press conference here along with someactivists, one Jamia student said he was beaten "mercilessly" when hewas studying in the library along with 25 others, including 10-12 girls, whileseveral others also alleged many were injured in the police action in Jamia aswell as in UP's Aligarh Muslim University.

The Supreme Court, however, declined to set up a committeeof a retired apex court judge to inquire into incidents of violence indifferent parts of the country since Sunday and asked the petitioners toapproach high courts.

Hearing a petition that students were indiscriminatelyarrested, were injured and were not getting proper medical treatment, a benchheaded by Chief Justice S A Bobde said in its order that each fact alleged bythe petitioners is disputed, on behalf of the Centre, by Solicitor GeneralTushar Mehta.

Police said it has arrested 10 people with criminalbackground for their alleged involvement in the violence near Jamia MilliaIslamia University, but none of them are students.

The police had on Sunday detained around 50 students, butthey were released later.

The university had virtually turned into a battlefield onSunday as police entered the campus and also used force, leading to violenceand arson in which four DTC buses, 100 private vehicles and 10 police bikeswere damaged.

The situation remained tense in the university premises onTuesday as protesters, including students and local residents, convergedoutside the varsity holding tricolour and placards to continue theirdemonstration against the CAA and the National Register of Citizens.

Braving freezing cold, they took out marches outside thevarsity, shouting slogans against the government.

In Seelampur area of New Delhi, angry protesters clashedwith police, pelted stones at them and damaged several buses, while the policealso resorted to baton charges and fired tear gas shells.

Several countries, including the US, the UK, Australia,Singapore, Canada and Israel have issued travel advisories to their respectivecitizens to exercise caution while travelling to India in the wake oflarge-scale protests across the country.

Protests are being held across the country ever since a billwas introduced in Parliament earlier this month.

Fresh protests took place on Tuesday in Kerala, Telangana,Tamil Nadu, Assam, West Bengal and several other parts of the country as well.

In Kerala, stones were hurled at state transport buses,shops were forcibly closed and protest marches were held in support of adawn-to-dusk hartal, while police took into preventive arrest over 200 people.

The hartal was called by a group of 30 Islamic and politicaloutfits against the amended Citizenship Act and police action against Jamiastudents in Delhi.

To express solidarity with the Jamia and AMU students, theMaulana Azad National Urdu University Teachers' Association (MANUUTA) also tookout a peaceful march on the varsity campus in Hyderabad.

Students of the Fergusson College in Maharashtra's Pune alsotook out a rally against the CAA and the NRC.

In Tamil Nadu, Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasanslammed the ruling AIADMK over the Citizenship Amendment Act and alleged it wasbeing "obedient to their masters" by supporting the new law.

DMK president M K Stalin called the new law "hasty andautocratic" and alleged the BJP-led Centre's objective was not India'sprogress but trampling the rights of Muslims.

In West Bengal, protesters blocked roads and railway tracks,though curfew was lifted in Guwahati of neighbouring Assam followingimprovement in the law and order situation. Curfew was relaxed in Shillong too.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the BJPcannot bully the states into enforcing the law.

In Uttar Pradesh, officials said 26 people, including eightstudents, arrested in connection with the violence at Aligarh Muslim Universityand surrounding areas, have been released on personal bonds, while evacuationof hostels continued overnight.

However, 19 people have been arrested in Mau area of thestate for violence on Monday night, which followed police action in Jamia.

In Muzaffarnagar, a Samajwadi Party worker was booked for aFacebook post against the new law.

Meanwhile, RSS-affiliated Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishadheld a demonstration at the Delhi University in support of the amended law.

'67 PEOPLE, 31 COPS INJURED IN JAMIA'

A total of 67 people, including students, and 31 police personnel were injured on Sunday after demonstrators protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act turned the New Friends Colony area near Jamia Millia Islamia into a battleground, the Delhi Police said in a report to the Ministry of Home Affairs on Tuesday. (With IANS inputs)

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