The chaos after citizenship Amendment Bill
After the bill was approved on December 4, 2019, violent protests erupted in Assam, especially in Guwahati, and other areas in the state. Reactionary protests were held as well in several metropolitan cities across India, including Delhi, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata and Mumbai.
As a reaction, protests were also held at universities across the country. By 16 December, the protests had spread across India with demonstrations occurring in at least 17 cities including Chennai, Jaipur, Bhopal, Lucknow and Puducherry. In Maharashtra, the students of Tata Institute of Social Science and the University of Mumbai , Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University in Aurangabad and the Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) in Pune staged protests in solidarity with their counterparts at the Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University. Students from various SPPU-affiliated colleges and members of organisations such as the National Students Union of India, the Students Federation of India and the Yuvak Kranti Dal took part in the protest.
On 19th December, police banned protests in several parts of India with the imposition of section 144 which prohibits the gathering of more than 4 individuals in a public space as being unlawful, in several parts of the country. Police denied permission for marches, rallies or any other demonstration. Internet services have also been shutdown in several parts of country like Delhi, Assam, Tripura. As a result of defying the ban, thousands of protesters were detained, primarily in Delhi, including several opposition leaders and activists. Despite of the fear of being detained, tens of thousands of people protested in Hyderabad, Patna, Chandigarh, Mumbai and other cities. Civil society groups, political parties, students, activists and ordinary citizens used social medial platforms to ask people to turn up and protest peacefully.
After the bill was cleared, violent protests erupted in Assam, especially in Guwahati, and other areas in the state whichwas the most violent in the recent days, where at least two people were killed. Buildings and railway stations were set on fire. The protesters were angry that the new law would allow thousands of Bengali speaking non-muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, to become legal citizens of India, thereby influencing the political and cultural environment of Assam. Thousands of members and workers of All Assam Students Union (AASU) and 30 other indigenous organizations, artists, cultural activists of the state gathered in the capital city of Assam to stage protest against the Act. Assam police had subsequently detained over 1,000 protesters in Guwahati while they took out a protest rally.
Peasant leader, Akhil Gogoi, was arrested in Jorhat, who had been organizing protests as a preventive measure by authorities. A special court of National Investigation Agency (NIA) in Guwahati charged him under sedition for "maoist links" and had sent him to 10-day NIA custody. According to the Assam government, 190 people were arrested by the Assam Police for their alleged involvement in the violent incidents during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests across the state.
Access to the Internet was restricted in Assam by the administrative authorities. A curfew was also declared in Assam and Tripura due to the protests, leading the army to be deployed as protesters defied those curfews. Railway services were suspended and some airlines started to waive rescheduling or cancellation fees in those areas.
Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh saw protests with their respective student organisations calling strikes and shutdowns. Demonstrations were also held in Agartala.
Youths and students from Sikkim University joined in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, expressing condemnation for the deaths of protesters in Assam and harsh treatment against students protesting against the Act
On 15 December, in Delhi near New Friends Colony, three Delhi Transport Corporation buses were torched. More than two thousand students of Jamia joined the protests against CAA. Jamia Milia Student Body and Jamia Millia Islamia Teacher’s Association (JTA) condemned the violence that happened on the same day in Delhi and stated that no student or teacher was involved in the violence. The other day, Priyanka Gandhi led a silent protest at the India Gate along with three hundred congress workers to show solidarity with the students of Jamia Millia Islamia.
The visuals of students being dragged and assaulted by the police was telecasted in the news. Students from all across Delhi joined the agitation. About two hundred people were injured and were admitted to AIIMS and the Holy Family Hospital. Police arrested ten people (some of them having criminal history) in the case of the violent clashes in Jamia. None of the arrested were students of Jamia.
Delhi's Seelampur area had stone-throwing crowds face off against police officers. Police retaliated with tear gas and batons, in which, several protesters and officers were injured. There were also reports of a police station being set on fire.
Access to mobile internet was restricted in certain places for the first time in Delhi. Politicians along with around 1,200 protesters were detained by the police from Red Fort and Mandi House areas.
Protests were held in Aligarh, Kanpur, Bareilly, Varanasi and Lucknow. Banaras Hindu University students also protested in support of AMU and Jamia students. The administration banned the public assembly all over the state to prevent further protests in the state. Access to the internet was restricted in Azamgarh district for 2 days, after protest continued for 2 days in the area. In Lucknow several buses, cars, media vans and motorbikes were torched. As per reports, the death toll in Uttar Pradesh's 13 districts has risen to 13. A portion of the police station at Mirza Hadipura area of Mau district was set on fire.
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath on CAA protests: I have called a meeting over this. You can’t indulge in violence in name of protest. We will take strict action against such elements. Will seize property of those found guilty and compensate damage to public property.
The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) coalition and the rival parliamentary opposition coalition of United Democratic Front (UDF) organized a joint hunger strike in the Thiruvananthapuram Martyr's Square. Hundreds of students from 40 colleges and universities all over Kerala conducted a long march and sit down protest conducted by a collective called Students' Unity of Ernakulam.
In Mysore, hundreds of people came out on the street, raising slogans demanding the abolition of the CAA and took out a bike rally against the Act. Following the agitation, the police imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) terming any congregation in the city of Mysore to be illegal. The police arrested 38 protesters from Campus Front of India in Mangalore who were marching towards the Deputy Commissioner residence on grounds of blocking traffic on Balmatta Road. Bangalore Police detained hundreds of people including historian Ramachandra Guha who had gathered outside Town Hall in the city to protest against the CAA and the proposed NRC.
Protest against CAA was organised by the Muslim organisations and political parties, in Tirupathur district of Tamil Nadu. Effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah were burnt, after which more than a hundred people were detained by the police. Kollywood actors Siddharth, Singer TM Krishna and other 600 detained for anti-CAA protests in Valluvar Kottam in Chennai.
Gujarat Police detained around 50 activists, academicians, and students who had gathering outside the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad and CEPT University for a protest over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Five students were arrested by Gujarat police for allegedly creating a graffiti against Citizenship Act. The Police stated that "They used slogans with certain symbols in their graffiti to intentionally hurt religious sentiments of a particular community and affect public peace and cause riots against members of a community. They also damaged public property."
Similar was the case within the states of Telangana, Odisha and Bihar as well.
Different NGOs and college students, backed by Congress, Nationalist Congress Party and Left Democratic Front parties jointly formed a front with the name "Hum Bharat Ke Log" at the August Kranti Maidan. In Mumbai, several actors including Farhan Akhtar, Swara Bhaskar, Huma Qureshi, Raj Babbar, Sushant Singh, Javed Jaffrey, Aditi Rao Hydari, Parvathy Thiruvothu, Konkona Sen Sharma, Nandita Das, Arjun Mathur and filmmakers Anurag Kashyap, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, and Saeed Mirza joined in the protest venue. Mumbai police had deployed more than 2,500 policemen to monitor and control around 20,000 protesters.
Protest marches were held in Ranchi and Jamshedpur, with participation of various tribal people's rights organisations which additionally raised concerns that Adivasis enjoyed land rights by tradition and most of their land is vested with village heads, hence it will be difficult for them to show individual ownership of land for the National Register of Citizens.
Ban on public assembly (Section 144) was announced in 44 districts of Madhya Pradesh. Bharatiya Janata Party members enacted a gherao at the collectorate office in Satna due to the refusal of the state to implement the CAA in the state.
A protest march under the designation of "Communal Harmony Manch" was conducted in Kurukshetra Haryana
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan led a protest march called the 'Samvidhan Bacho rally' against the amended citizenship law and demanded the repeal of the act, stating it was against the constitution and is an attempt to divide people in the name of religion. The march was attended by nearly 300,000 people and supported by various other parties including Aam Aadmi Party, Rashtriya Lok Dal and Janata Dal (Secular).
The Assamese community in London staged a protest outside the High Commission of India. Protests were also held at Harvard Universityand Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States of America, where the students held demonstrations against the violent police crackdown in Jamia Milia Islamia. Protests are also planned in Berlin and Zurich.
Thousands of people joined a demonstration led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her ruling Trinamool Congress party. Mamata Banerjee stated that the NRC and CAA would be implemented in the state "over her dead body", she further appealed people to maintain peace and tranquility while accusing "outside forces" and "stooges of the BJP" of engaging in violence. Five trains were set on fire by the protesters in Lalgola and Krishnapur railway stations in Murshidabad district; railway tracks were also damaged in Suti. While protests continued in the districts of South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas and Nadia also in Moulali in central Kolkata.
Bharatiya Janata Party working President JP Nadda and party general secretary in-charge of West Bengal Kailash Vijayvargiya led a rally in support of the amended Citizenship Act in Kolkata. Several leaders including Locket Chatterjee and Roopa Ganguly were present at the march. "We are leading the march in a peaceful manner. People have been misled. In West Bengal, the chief minister herself is troubling the people. You are telling lies to the people and troubling them," Ganguly said.
Contradicting to the protests going on, as many as 1,100 academicians and research scholars from various universities across India and abroad as well as prominent persons released a statement in support of the amended Citizenship Act. The signatories to the statement include Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta, Shishir Bajoria, Chairman, IIM Shillong, Sunaina Singh, Vice Chancellor, Nalanda University, JNU professor Ainul Hasan, Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, Senior Fellow, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies and journalist Kanchan Gupta. The statement said "We note with deep anguish that an atmosphere of fear and paranoia is being created in the country through deliberate obfuscation and fear-mongering, leading to violence in several parts of the country. The act fulfilled the long-standing demand of providing refuge to persecuted religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Ever since the failure of the Liaquat-Nehru Pact of 1950, various leaders and political parties such as the Congress, CPI(M) etc., cutting across the ideological spectrum, had demanded grant of citizenship to religious minorities from Pakistan and Bangladesh, who mostly belonged to the Dalit castes. We also note with satisfaction that the concerns of the north-eastern states have been heard and are being addressed appropriately. We believe that CAA is in perfect sync with the secular Constitution of India as it does not prevent any person of any religion from any country seeking Indian citizenship. Nor did it change the criteria of citizenship in any way; merely providing a special expedited redress, under special circumstances, for minorities fleeing religious persecution from three specific countries i.e Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. It does not in any way prevent Ahmadis, Hazaras, Baloch or any other denominations and ethnicities, from these same three countries, seeking citizenship through regular processes," the statement said.
At least 1,500 supporters of CAA formed a human chain to showcase their support to the Act in Pune. A few citizens who claim to have no political affiliation, gathered at the Jhansi Rani chowk, sitting on the side kata, writing slogans like ‘We support CAA’.
The people of Northeast reacted sharply against this bill as they felt, that this will affect the cultural identity and language. The logic is that the day will come, when the Chief Minister of Assam will be an immigrant and not the indigenous people. It may be noted, here, that because of porous border with Bangladesh and a large section of Muslim population has migrated to the Northeast region affecting the economic opportunities and culture distortion. It will also effect, that after Kashmir, it is Assam which is having the highest Muslim population. The congress has always been criticised for appeasing the minorities particularly the Muslims, whereas BJP is also being criticised for appeasing the Hindus who forms the majority communities. In the process, it is the common people who suffer and economy takes the back seat. An academician in Shillong, while talking to this author, silently said that Modi Ji, is so concerned about the welfare of the minority communities of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, but unaware of pathetic conditions of minorities in Northeast who are suffering and deprived of economic opportunities and faced human rights violation.
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