Citizenship Law: Oppn intensifies protests

New Delhi/Chennai/Guwahati: The opposition on Monday stepped up protests against the amended Citizenship Act with the Congress holding a ‘Satyagraha for unity’ at Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial Rajghat and its ally DMK leading a massive rally in Chennai, while scattered demonstration were held against the contentious law in several states by students and others.
Countering the opposition offensive, the BJP held a rally in Kolkata in support of the citizenship law which was addressed by party working president J P Nadda and several state leaders who accused the Trinamool Congress and other rival parties of misleading the people.
Thousands of people from Muslim community hit the streets in Karnataka capital against the Citizenship Amendment Law and the proposed National Register of Citizens following a call by around 35 organisations under the banner of Joint Action Committee of Bengaluru.
Demanding the scrapping of the law, activists of the Youth League, a wing of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), organised protest marches to post-offices in various parts of Kerala, where three migrant labourers from West Bengal were assaulted by some unidentified people for allegedly taking part in anti-CAA protests that took place near Kozhikode a day ago.
The Murshidabad natives were beaten up on Sunday night after they came back from a protest march organised at Nadapuram, police said.
Protests continued in Assam too with former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, founder of the Asom Gana Parishad which is an alliance partner of the ruling BJP in the state, joining a sit-in at a memorial for Mahatma Gandhi atop the Sarania Hill Act in Guwahati.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) also stages protests in which people from different walks of life participated. Five persons, including four in firing by security forces, have lost their lives since December 11.
In the national capital, police detained 46 students outside the Uttar Pradesh Bhawan and 93 near Assam Bhawan while they were protesting against the amended Citizenship Act.
Top Congress leaders including party chief Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra participated in the ‘Satyagraha’ at Rajghat to “show solidarity” with students agitating against the amended Citizenship Act and all those “suffering due to bad policies of the government”.
Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi read out the Preamble to the Constitution and the party members also observed a one-minute silence.
“In the name of all the children who have been martyred in this movement. In the name of Bijnor’s Omraj Saini, whose five children are waiting for him and he is in the hospital, injured. In their name, we resolve today that we will protect the Constitution and will not allow it to be destroyed,” Priyanka Gandhi said.
The protests against the amended Citizenship Act at the Jamia Millia Islamia, where police and protesters had clashed on December 15, entered its eight day, with hundreds continuing to throng the streets outside the university. Students from several schools in Noornagar, Batla House and Okhla also attended the protests on Monday.
In a show of strength, the DMK and its allies took out a huge protest rally in Chennai against the amended Citizenship Act and warned of intensifying the agitation by mobilising apolitical sections of society till the Centre withdraws the ‘draconian’ law.
DMK president M K Stalin led the march from Egmore to Rajarathinam stadium and leaders of alliance parties, including senior Congress leader P Chidambaram, walked alongside him holding placards against the Act.
Cadres of DMK and other allies, holding party flags, banners and placards, marched for 2.5 kilometres in a procession amid tight security as police deployed 5,000 personnel and drones along the route.
MDMK leader Vaiko told reporters the rally was “a success” which will make the Centre realise it has stirred a hornet’s nest by amending the Citizenship Act.
State Secretaries of CPI(M) and CPI K Balakrishnan and R Mutharasan, IUML leader K M Kader Mohideen, VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi M H Jawahirullah, DMK MP Kanimozhi and Stalin’s son and DMK Youth Wing chief Udhayanidhi were among the prominent participants.
A last minute attempt by two petitioners to stop the rally failed after the Madras High Court late Sunday night said peaceful demonstration cannot be prevented in a democratic country, but directed the police to videograph the event.
The situation was peaceful in Uttar Pradesh, where 18 people had died in widespread clashes during protests last week, with police saying they have arrested the state head of Islamic outfit Popular Front of India (PFI), Wasim, and two others for allegedly masterminding the December 19 violence in Lucknow.
UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma had on Sunday said that authorities suspect the role of PFI and Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in the violence during the anti-CAA protests.
“Law and order under control, situation is normal in UP. 213 FIRs have been filed, 925 persons have been arrested so far in connection (from Dec 10) with anti-CAA protests in the state- officials,” an official statement issued here by the police department said.
In Karnataka, curfew was lifted Monday morning in violence-hit Mangaluru and the city remained largely peaceful.
Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said the state government has decided to conduct both CID and magisterial inquiries into the violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Mangaluru last week that had resulted in two deaths.
Hoping that peace and tranquility would continue across the state, Yediyurappa said those who were speaking against CAA were not able to or ready to say how would the Act would affect minority Muslim brothers.
City police commissioner P S Harsha requested public to share videos or photos regarding the violence in the city on December 19 for further investigation.
Police said the prohibitory orders will continue to be in force in the city till Monday midnight.
Siddaramaiah, who was denied entry into Mangaluru last week by the police in view of curfew in place following the violence, visited the residences of the deceased at Khandak and Kudroli and also handed over compensation cheques to their kin on Monday.
Members of the students council boycotted the convocation of the Pondicherry University to show their solidarity with protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The convocation, attended by President Ram Nath Kovind, was held amid tight security in and around the campus.
Various organisations in Nizamabad district of Telangana staged protest meetings against the CAA and the proposed NRC, even as police foiled an attempt to hold a protest near Charminar in the city by taking 12 people into preventive custody. PTI

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