The Opposition on Monday stepped up protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act with the Congress holding a 'satyagraha for unity' at Mahatma Gandhi's memorial, Raj Ghat in Delhi, and its ally DMK leading a massive rally in Chennai, while scattered demonstrations were held against the contentious law in several states by students and other citizens.
Countering the Opposition offensive, the BJP held a rally in Kolkata in support of the citizenship law which was addressed by party working president JP Nadda and several state leaders who accused the Trinamool Congress and other rival parties of misleading the people.
Meanwhile, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who is eyeing pan-India support in her fight against the Citizenship Amendment Act, wrote to chief ministers and senior leaders of Opposition parties on Monday, urging them to unite and chalk out a plan to "save the country".
Banerjee wrote separate letters to NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah, among others, asserting the need for joint protests against the CAA and the proposed nationwide NRC.
Protests continued across the country as thousands of people hit the streets in Karnataka’s Bengaluru against the amended law and the proposed National Register of Citizens, following a call by around 35 organisations under the banner of Joint Action Committee of Bengaluru.
In Kerala, activists of the Youth League, a wing of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), demanded the scrapping of the law and organised protest marches to post-offices in various parts of the state, 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, reports said.
Protests continued in Assam too with former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, founder of the Asom Gana Parishad, 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.
In the National Capital, police detained 46 students outside the Uttar Pradesh Bhawan and 93 near the Assam Bhawan while they were protesting against the amended Citizenship Act.
Top Congress leaders including Sonia, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, former party chief Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra participated in the 'Satyagraha' at Raj Ghat to "show solidarity" with students agitating against the amended Citizenship Act and all those "suffering due to bad policies of the government".
Sonia, Manmohan and Rahul 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 lost their lives 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 said.
The protests against the amended Citizenship Act at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, where police and protesters had clashed on 15 December, 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 MK 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 CPM and CPI K Balakrishnan and R Mutharasan, IUML leader K M Kader Mohideen, VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi MH 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 19 December violence in Lucknow. Uttar Pradesh 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 10 December) 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 BS 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 PS Harsha requested public to share videos or photos regarding the violence in the city on 19 December 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.
Rabiha, a gold medalist from Pondicherry university rejected the gold medal because she was allegedly denied entry into the convocation hall when President Kovind arrived for the event on suspicion that she could protest against CAA.#CAA_NRCpic.twitter.com/U6QRhbgOvI
— Gopi Shah (@gops33) December 23, 2019
A student of the Pondicherry University, Rabiha, rejected a gold medal at a ceremony of the college because she was allegedly denied entry into the convocation hall when President Kovind arrived for the event on suspicion that she could protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Dec 23, 2019 23:53:22 IST