One person died as clashes broke out during protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday, taking the toll in the state from Thursday to 16. Large-scale vandalism during a bandh called by the Rashtriya Janata Dal in the neighbouring state of Bihar disrupted road and rail traffic.
The Congress, Left and other Opposition parties led demonstrations in many states including Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Nagaland and West Bengal, demanding that the contentious law be scrapped.
One person died and several people were injured in clashes between anti-CAA protesters, who pelted stones and indulged in arson, and police in Rampur in UP, officials said. Protesters set ablaze Yatimkhana police post in Kanpur and indulged in heavy brick-batting, leading to injuries to many people including policemen, a senior official said. Police used cane-charge and tear gas to chase them away.
Uttar Pradesh police said as many as 705 persons have been arrested and 4,500 were detained for the violence during the last two days. They said 260 security personnel were injured, of whom 57 suffered gunshot wounds.
Bhim Army chief sent to 14-day judicial custody
A day after massive protests and clashes in the National Capital, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Aazad was arrested when he came outside Jama Masjid, where he had taken part in a demonstration on Friday, and was later sent to judicial custody for 14 days by a court.
Fifteen arrested for Friday's violence in Daryaganj were remanded in judicial custody for two days, while 11 others were sent to jail for a fortnight in connection with the Seemapuri incident.
Police and paramilitary personnel carried out flag march in violence-hit areas, even as scores of people held peaceful demonstrations against the amended Citizenship Act at several places, including at India Gate, Jamia Millia Islamia, Rajghat, Uttar Pradesh Bhawan. Police said no untoward incident was reported.
The situation in Assam was peaceful while mobile internet services were restored in Meghalaya. In Assam, the All Assam Students Union organised all women rallies in many parts of the state, including Guwahati. Women protesters clad in traditional Mekhela Chadors participated in a peaceful protest at the Latasil ground in Guwahati from 11 am to 3 pm.
In West Bengal, students from Jadavpur University, Presidency University, Alia University, Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and Calcutta University marched to the BJP headquarters in Kolkata, demanding a rollback of the amended law. A scuffle broke out between the police and the protesters when some tried to break through the police barricades and head towards the party office.
In Bihar, carrying bamboo sticks and party flags, supporters of bandh called by Rashtriya Janata Dal, against the amended Citizenship Act gathered at bus stands, railway tracks and other vantage points in all districts of the state since the crack of dawn, unfazed by the winter fog and chilly winds. They squatted on railway tracks, disrupting train movement, and blocked bus terminuses at various places to enforce the day-long bandh.
The protesters also smashed windshields of taxis and three-wheelers and damaged cycle-rickshaws that plied on the roads in defiance of the call for the shutdown at the towns of Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur and outskirts of Patna.
Protests continued in other states, with many being led by Opposition parties. CPM activists tried to block trains at the railway station in Chennai but their attempts were foiled by police. The Congress in Kerala led by its top leaders held demonstrations in all district headquarters of the state. There were scuffles at several places in Tamil and Kerala between police and protesters who tried to break barricades.
Yediyurappa visits Mangaluru, promises curfew will be relaxed
Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa visited Mangaluru and met the families of two persons who were killed in police firing there on Thursday during violent anti-CAA protests. During his visit, Yediyurappa also met representatives of Christian and Muslim communities, political leaders and officials. He appealed for peace and said he has instructed the district administration to provide compensation to the families of the victims as per law.
Curfew is in place within the city commissionerate till Sunday midnight in view of violence during Thursday protests.. Police detained CPI Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala Binoy Viswam and some party activists who staged a protest in the city against the CAA defying curfew and also barred Congress leader Siddaramaiah from entering the city till curfew lasts.
Amid the countrywide stir against the Citizenship Act, BJP ally Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) urged the Centre to include Muslims in the new law by bringing an amendment to it, and said there should not be any exclusion on the basis of religion. "We strongly feel that the Muslim community should be included in it (amended Citizenship Act)," SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said in Patiala.
BSP president Mayawati asked the Centre to give up its "stubborn stand" on the new citizenship law and NRC and withdraw its decisions as now "voices opposed to the CAA and NRC have started coming from within the NDA".
Unfazed by the criticism, the BJP announced that it will start a mass contact programme to expose Opposition parties' "lies" and apprise people of the details of the law to assure them that it is not against citizens. Party general secretary Bhupender Yadav told reporters that the BJP, within the next 10 days, will contact more than three crore families, organise a rally in every district and hold over 250 press conferences across the country. The Congress meanwhile announced that it will hold a silent protest at Rajghat on Sunday afternoon. The dharna will be led by party interim president Sonia Gandhi and party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are expected to be in attendance.
Violence erupts in Rampur, Kanpur
Despite restrictions on movement and Internet services, BJP-ruled Uttar Pradesh, which was hit by large scale violent protests after Friday prayers, saw more clashes on Saturday. Amid a bandh call in Rampur against the CAA, around 400 to 500 protesters, including children in the age group of 12-18 years, gathered at some distance from the Eidgah in the city and stones were pelted at policemen, leading to clashes, officials said.
"Of the five injured, four were referred to Meerut for treatment where one died, while another is in a serious condition. Around a dozen protestors have been detained," District Magistrate (DM) Aunjaneya Singh told PTI.
ADG (Kanpur) Prem Prakash said Rapid Action Force has been called out along with 'Vajr' vehicles to control the situation. Samajwadi Party MLA Amitabh Bajpai and former party MLA Kamlesh Tewari were arrested as a precautionary measure and their vehicles seized
After a lull of four days, the Aligarh Muslim University campus again witnessed protests with hundreds of non-teaching staff joining hands with teachers' association to oppose the CAA and police action against students. The AMU has set up a one-man judicial panel to conduct an internal inquiry into violent incidents that took place on the campus on 15 and 16 December.
Police earlier said at least 15 people, including an eight-year-old boy, lost their lives in the state since Thursday in the state. Over 260 policemen were also injured, of whom 57 received gunshot wounds, IG (Law and Order) Praveen Kumar said.
Director General of Police OP Singh claimed women and children were used as "shields by the protesters". He maintained that police did not open fire and suggested the deaths were due to cross firing between protesters.
"We are clear and transparent in this. If anyone died due to our fire we will conduct a judicial inquiry and take action. But nothing happened from our side," the DGP stressed. "All the deaths that took place have been in cross firing and this will become clear in postmortem examination," the DGP told reporters.
IG Kumar said 102 persons have been also arrested for making objectionable remarks and posting objectionable content on various social media platforms.
"So far action has been taken against 14,101 social media posts. This includes 5,965 Twitter posts; 7,995 Facebook (accounts) and 141 Youtube (accounts)."
Clashes with police were reported after Friday prayers from Bhadohi, Bahraich, Amroha, Farurukhabad, Ghaziabad, Varanasi, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Hapur, Hathras, Bulandshahr, Hamirpur and Mahoba districts and cases have been registered. Internet had been suspended in major cities, including Lucknow.
RJD carries out bandh in Bihar
Tejashwi Yadav, leader of the Opposition in Bihar Assembly, marched in a large procession against the amended Citizenship Act from the party office in Bir Chand Patel Marg in Patna to Dak Bungalow crossing, throwing traffic on the busy Fraser Road and Bailey Road out of gear.
At some places in Patna, workers of the RJD, known for their strong arm tactics to enforce bandhs, presented people with roses and urged them with folded hands to support the shutdown in "national interest".
The shutdown, which came two days after a bandh was called on the same issue by Left parties, is being supported by other constituents of the Grand Alliance like the Congress and the Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP).
Movement of at least seven trains was affected for periods ranging from 30 minutes to over an hour at various stations, the East Central Railway, headquartered at Hajipur in the state, said in a statement. In Muzaffarpur, the largest north Bihar town, RJD and Congress leaders sat on highways, major road and railway crossings to enforce the bandh. At places like Brahmpura, they clashed with shopkeepers who were reluctant to down their shutters.
Situation peaceful in North East, Assam announces new bills
Reports of the bandh disrupting normal business and vehicular traffic have been received from districts like Munger, Bhagalpur, Begusarai, Jehanabad and Nawada.
In Meghalaya, curfew imposed in Sadar and Lumdiengjri police station limits in Shillong was relaxed for 16 hours from 5 am on Saturday and no untoward incident was reported in these areas in the past 24 hours, East Khasi Hills District Magistrate M W Nongbri said.
The Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) organized a peaceful public rally in Dimapur against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Addressing the rally, NPCC president, K Therie said the CAA, which grants Indian citizenship to non-Muslims ofAfghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, if implemented will "submerge" the tribal people of the northeast region. Veteran Congress leaders SI Jamir and KL Chishi also spoke on the occasion
In Assam, the curfew imposed in Dibrugarh following violent protests against the Act was relaxed for 16 hours since 6 am on Saturday as the law and order situation improved, they said.
Mobile internet services were restored on Friday in Assam after nine days of its suspension while broadband services had resumed on 18 December.
The BJP-led state government announced a slew of measures for protection of Assamese language and land rights, welfare of ethnic communities and constitutional status to all tribal autonomous councils. Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told a press conference in Guwahati that the cabinet has resolved to request the Centre to amend Article 345 of the Constitution to declare Assamese language as the state language, excluding the Bengali major Barak valley, two hill districts and the Bodoland Territorial Administration Districts (BTAD).
The cabinet meet chaired by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also decided to introduce a legislation in the next Assembly session, making it mandatory to include Assamese language as a compulsory subject in all English and other medium schools in the state.
For protection of the land rights of indigenous people, he said a bill will be tabled in the Assembly to stop transfer of their land to outsiders. Another legislation, the Assam Heritage Preservation
Bill, will make encroachment, buying and selling of heritage property punishable, the minister said.
Protests continue in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu
According to sources, the West Bengal police have stepped up vigil and beefed up security arrangements in various parts of the state in order to prevent any untoward incident. The state had witnessed violence and arson from 13 to 17 December during protests against the new citizenship law. More than 600 people have been arrested so far for their alleged involvement in arson and violence in the state, police said.
Senior Congress leaders including Ramesh Chennithala, Mullappally Ramachandran, Shashi Tharoor, Benny Behanan and MM Hassan participated in anti-CAA protests held in all district headquarters of Kerala. In some places including Kochi, Wayanad and Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram the workers tried to break the police barricades and enter central government institutions, leading to minor scuffles with police personnel.
"It is a fight against authoritarianism and fascism. The government is using brute force to silence the people who are on the streets against the law meant to divide the people of the country on religious lines," Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Chennithala alleged while addressing the protesters.
In Tamil Nadu, outfits affiliated to the CPI(M) including the Democratic Youth Federation of India, and Students Federation of India attempted to block trains at the MGR Central Railway Station complex in the state capital, leading to scuffles with police, Communist Party of India veteran Nallakannu led the march to Raj Bhavan as part of the party's "besiege Raj Bhavan" agitation in which scores of Congress workers, volunteers of outfits including the CPI-affiliated All India Students' Federation, took part. They were stopped near the Taluk Office Road-Little Mount point.
Protests were held at Kumbakonam and other parts of Tamil Nadu as well by various outfits including Islamic bodies.
The situation remained peaceful in Madhya Pradesh, where restrictions on assembly of more than four people are in place in 44 out of 52 districts.
Curfew was relaxed from 3 pm to 4.30 pm in entire Hanumatal police station area and parts of Adhartal police station limits in Jabalpur. Restrictions were also relaxed from 4.30 pm to 6 pm in entire area under Gohalpur police station and parts of Kotwali police station. "The period during which curfew was relaxed passed off peacefully as people came out of houses and purchased essential commodities," district Superintendent of Police Amit Singh told PTI.
At least 35 people have been arrested across the state in connection with Friday's violent protests, SP Singh said.
In Maharashtra, twenty people were detained and 130 booked in Hingoli district in Marathawada region for allegedly damaging public property and rioting during separate protests against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act, an official said.
He said 130 people have been booked for cheating, attempting to murder, endangering life or personal safety of others, voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means and unlawful assembly.
NCP president Sharad Pawar slammed the NDA government , saying the CAA and the NRC were "ploys to divert" attention from serious issues plaguing the country.
"CAA and NRC are ploys to divert people's attention from serious issues that the country is facing," he told reporters in Pune. "Not just minorities, but those who care for the country's unity and progress are opposing CAA and NRC. The new citizenship law will disturb and hurt religious and social unity and harmony of the country," he said.
Meanwhile, 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, IIM Shillong chairman Shishir Bajoria, Nalanda University Vice Chancellor Sunaina Singh , JNU professor Ainul Hasan, and Abhijit Iyer-Mitra.
With inputs from PTI
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Updated Date: Dec 21, 2019 23:47:48 IST