NEW DELHI – What started as a student protest has now spread like wildfire, across India. City after city, University after University — protests erupted, which now has less to do with the Citizenship Amendment Act but more to do with the alleged police high handedness against Jamia students in Delhi, on Sunday.
On Monday, thousands of students hit the streets in the capital and staged strong anti-police demonstrations at the campuses of Jamia Millia Islamia and the Delhi University. Braving freezing cold, agitated students, some of them shirtless, protested outside the gates of JMI University. Shouting slogans “”Inquilab Zindabad” the protesting students demanded a CBI inquiry into the alleged “police brutality”.
As many as 50 detained students of JMI were released even as the situation in the campus remained tense with scores of hostel students leaving for home. Delhi Police said that the crime branch will investigate the violence in which four DTC buses, 100 private vehicles and 10 police bikes were damaged and asserted that it used “maximum restrain, minimum force” despite being “provoked” by protesters.
With black flags waving, reading out the preamble of the Constitution and in some cases violent mobs pelting stones – the Jamia crackdown has clearly seen a ripple effect.
In the national capital, Jamia Millia Islamia, that has been the nucleus of the protest on Sunday, is continuing with its agitation, though in a sobered manner, on Monday. Jamia VC Najma Akhtar demanded a high level inquiry into the police action. She also said that they will be filing an FIR on Sunday”s campus intrusion and assaults on students by the Delhi Police.
Meanwhile, protests were witnessed in Delhi university”s North Campus area as well where confrontation was witnessed as many protesting students are said to have stopped others from sitting in the ongoing examination. Another protest call, the biggest of them was by the JNU students Union at 6 p.m. on Monday evening at Delhi”s India Gate area.
Meanwhile, the spark of protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has ignited unrest in various parts of Uttar Pradesh with internet services have been shut in six districts including Aligarh, Meerut, Saharanpur and Varanasi.
While students in Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) clashed with the police late on Sunday night, students of the Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, an Islamic seminary, were also out on the roads after midnight in support of the students in the Jamia Millia and AMU. In Varanasi, students in the Banaras Hindu University also staged a protest march on the campus, late on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, students of the Aligarh Muslim University have been asked to vacate their hostel rooms at the earliest as the varsity has been closed till January 5.
In Lucknow”s Nadwa College, students clashed with police leading to serious law and order situation. The Islamic seminary in Lucknow Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama too has been shut down till January 5, following the unrest. The Nadwa college students, who are supporting Jamia Millia students, had pelted stones at the police on Monday when they were stopped from coming out of the institution.
In a related development, the Integral University in Lucknow (a private university) has also been shut down for three days after students staged a demonstration on Monday to express solidarity with their counterparts who are agitating against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The fire of protest soon spread to Hyderabad. Protests that erupted on the campus of Moulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), on Sunday night, against the police ”brutality” on students of the Jamia Millia Islamia and the Aligarh Muslim University, continued on Monday.
Dozens of students of the country”s only Urdu university gathered on the campus around midnight and raised slogans against the police action on Jamia and AMU campuses. The students have reportedly decided to boycott the semester examinations.
A mob set afire a police post and targeted some vehicles at Kargil Chowk, in Bihar”s Patna on Monday. According to Patna District Magistrate Kumar Ravi, the protesters were moving towards the Kargil Chowk from Ashok Rajpath when they were intercepted by the police.
They attacked a Vajra vehicle and pelted stones on the police, leaving around a dozen policemen injured, Ravi said. The police had to lob three rounds of tear gas to disperse the mob, he said.
How can the North East be left behind when the opposition to the CAA came first from this part of India? The toll in the ongoing protests against the new citizenship law (CAA) rose to five in Assam with two more persons succumbing to their wounds, even as the authorities on Sunday had decided to further relax the curfew in the capital city amid gradual improvement in the law and order situation.
Two persons admitted with bullet injuries at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital perished on Saturday night and Sunday morning respectively, officials said.
However, Guwahati Joint Commissioner of Police Debraj Upadhyay told IANS over phone, “The situation is improving gradually. It is better than yesterday. I think the situation will further improve.”
College students in Tamil Nadu on Monday protested against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, expressing solidarity with students of Jamia Millia Islamia, who had clashed with the police on Sunday.
Members of Students Federation of India (SFI), a left wing students” arm protested outside the Chennai Suburban Railway Terminal against the contentious Act.
Students of Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) took out a procession inside the campus. Similarly, students of Loyola College here also staged protests.
In Tiruvannamalai, a group of students of Government Arts College held protest and shouted slogans.
Even in BJP ruled Karnataka, the fire of the protest spread. Thousands of Bengalureans protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), calling the movement another ”freedom struggle”. The protest took place on Sunday evening.
The former Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore (IIM-B) professor called upon the students to take a pledge to fight for an inclusive India and celebrate diversity.
“I urge everyone to join the struggle to save the soul of our country,” Gowda said as he participated in the demonstration at the Townhall in Bengaluru.
Many members of the Muslim community also took part in the protest held on Sunday.
Earlier on Friday, thousands of Muslims protested across Karnataka after Friday prayers and presented memorandum against the CAA.
Political parties including SDPI and the Welfare Party gave a shutdown call and it brought left and the Congress together in its opposition against the CAA.
On Monday morning, when the Governor arrived at the Cochin University of Science and Technology, the police had to remove protesters from the site. The Governor had called a meeting of all the vice-chancellors in the state.
Newly appointed Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had to face protests on Sunday night when angry student and youth wings of both the CPI-M and the Congress marched to his official residence in the state capital.
Manipur Governor Najma Heptulla, who was on way to Lakshadweep, also faced the wrath of the protesters in Kochi. The protesters waved black flags as she moved to the airport. The police took into custody a few protesters.
With thousands joining in, West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee on Monday led a huge protest march against the NRC and the CAA through the heart of Kolkata and administered a pledge to people not to allow NRC exercise and implementation of the controversial citizenship law in the state.
Sports and cultural personalities, educationists and other civil society members were part of the march which increased in size with every minute after starting from the base of B.R. Ambedkar”s statue on Indira Gandhi Sarani (erstwhile Red Road).
Ahead of the rally, Banerjee garlanded Ambedkar”s statue and administered a pledge to the participants, calling for peace and harmony of all religions and emphasised that nobody would have to leave Bengal.
“Bengal stands united to keep a united India. No NRC, no CAA, we want peace. This is our slogan. Through a democratic and peaceful movement, we will join the protests articulated by people across the country,” she said to tumultuous applause.
The Supreme Court took a no nonsense stance on Monday, saying violence must stop for the Court to uphold the students rights. The Prime Minister, however, struck a conciliatory note by appealing for calm, while appreciating dissent.
In politics, optics matter. And Sunday”s police crackdown seems to have done little in containing emotions and the result is out for all to see on Monday.
PM Appeals For Peace
Alarmed by the nationwide protest and repeated incidents of violence over the newly enacted Citizenship Amendment Act, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday appealed to everyone to stay away from rumour mongering and maintained that the country should not allow “vested interest groups” to create disturbance.
“We cannot allow vested interest groups to divide us and create disturbance…,” Prime Minister said in a series of tweets and also stated that – ‘This is the time to maintain peace, unity and brotherhood. It is my appeal to everyone to stay away from any sort of rumour mongering and falsehoods”.
“The need of the hour is for all of us to work together for the development of India and the empowerment of every Indian, especially the poor, downtrodden and marginalised,’ Mr Modi said.
He said ‘the need of the hour is for all of us to work together for the development of India and the empowerment of every Indian, especially the poor’.