Simultaneous protests raged in multiple cities on Thursday with thousands-strong crowds of students, activists and others defying prohibitory orders to voice their dissent against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Violence erupted in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, and Bihar, and hundreds were detained across the country.
Authorities resorted to barricading and clampdown on mobile services, including an unprecedented one in Delhi, while protesters also faced tear gas shelling and police batons at some places including in Uttar Pradesh, where incidents of arson and stone pelting gave the protests a violent colour.
Reports also emerged on Thursday evening that two people had died of injuries sustained in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Mangaluru. The protests turned violent in the city in the afternoon.
Reuters quoted two hospital officials as saying that at least one of the two dead had been shot. Local government official Sindhu B Rupeh said there had been clashes between stone-throwing crowds and police in Mangaluru since Thursday afternoon, despite restrictions imposed on public gatherings.
Mangaluru Police commissioner Dr Harsha reportedly said that police had to open fire when a strong mob of 7,000 people "attacked personnel".
Addressing the media after the incident, he said that the unruly mob attacked police with weapons and also tried to torch the Bundar Police station in Mangaluru.
Sources said that eight personnel were injured and the DCP's hand was fractured. Meanwhile, two attackers were seriously injured, Harsha added. He also requested the public not to venture in to road in Mangaluru as the situation still tense. All schools and colleges will be shut on Friday.
Opposition parties also joined forces to attack the Modi government on the new law which they said goes against the "idea of India", even as the ruling BJP asserted that there would be no rethink on the implementation of the contentious law, and that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) would also be brought in.
Protests remained largely peaceful at most places with the agitators depending on slogans and placards to express their opposition to the new law and what they called 'barbaric police action' against students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University. Some groups of protesters in Delhi also offered roses to policemen, saying love is their only answer even for tear gas shells and batons.
Will take revenge on those who damaged property: Yogi Adityanath
In Uttar Pradesh, where violent clashes saw at least a dozen vehicles including bikes, being set afire, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath said those who damaged public property would have to pay for it and the culprits were being identified through video and CCTV footage. Adityanath said his government will take "revenge" on those involved in the violence over the amended Citizenship Act by auctioning their property to compensate for the losses
There were incidents of stone pelting and arson in Bihar as well, while rail and road traffic was hit in several states.
Barricades by police in and around the National Capital, closing of Delhi Metro gates at several stations and an unprecedented suspension of mobile voice calling, messaging, and internet services in parts of Delhi added to woes of the public.
Left leaders Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, Nilotpal Basu and Brinda Karat, activist Yogendra Yadav and historian Ramchandra Guha were among those who were detained in various parts of the country for taking part in the anti-citizenship law stir for defying prohibitory orders.
The law has been amended to enable grant of speedier citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan if they had to leave their respective countries due to religious persecution.
"India today has the ignominy of being the largest internet shutdown in the world. It is unacceptable. Metro stations were closed. This is worse than what we saw during the Emergency. The manner in which they are dealing with democratic protests is unacceptable," Yechury said.
Authorities in Mangaluru have suspended mobile internet services for 48 hours beginning at 10 pm on 19 November.
Section 144 of the CrPC was imposed in Delhi in Red Fort area, but that did not deter scores of students and activists from converging there to raise their voice against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the police crackdown in JMI and AMU.
The agitators were put into buses in a bid to clear the Red Fort area. Holding placards and shouting slogans, the protesters allowed themselves to be escorted to the buses.
"We are requesting the protesters to please apply for the designated place for the protest. In the non-designated places, public face problems and many emergency services get affected," Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central) Mandeep Singh Randhawa said, while urging people to cooperate.
A large number of protesters converged near Sunehri Masjid in Old Delhi, after being pushed back by police from the historic Red Fort. They were heard raising slogans of 'Hum Honge Kamyaab', 'Inquilab Zindabad'.
Slogans of 'CAA Se Azaadi and NRC Se Azaadi' were also raised by the crowd, which included locals from Old Delhi and East Delhi and a large number of students.
A large number of protesters gathered at the Jantar Mantar as well.
Several companies in the NCR region also asked their employees to work from home and cautioned them against joining demonstrations.
In Karnataka, police lobbed tear gas shells, resorted to baton charge and fired in the air to disperse anti-CAA protesters in Mangaluru while scores were detained in the state capital, Bengaluru, where Section 144 was imposed from 6 am on Thursday.
After he was detained by the police, Guha said it was "absolutely undemocratic" that police were not allowing even a peaceful protest, which is the democratic right of citizens.
While he was protesting with a placard that read "CAA is against the constitution", policemen held him by his hand and took him away from the venue in a government bus kept reserved only to take away the protesters. He was later released.
Historian Ramachandra Guha, Mid-Interview, Detained By Police while talking about non-violent protesthttps://t.co/CpNOYd6EWN
— William Dalrymple (@DalrympleWill) December 19, 2019
Soon after his arrest, people in hundreds swarmed the Town Hall. Buses parked near the venue by police to take away the protestors proved insufficient. Police personnel were seen persuading the protesters to withdraw their protests but it did not have any effect as more and more people started crowding the venue, resulting in a traffic jam.
Activists condemned Guha’s detainment. The Communist Party of India too staged demonstrations in Bengaluru against the citizenship law and the proposed nation-wide NRC.
Protests were also held at several other places in the state, including in Hubballi, Kalaburagi, Hassan, Mysuru and Ballary where police detained demonstrators who violated prohibitory orders.
In Uttar Pradesh, violent clashes broke out in the capital, Lucknow, when a mob pelted stones and torched vehicles parked outside a police post, PTI reported. In Sambhal, a state transport bus was set on fire.
DGP OP Singh said police had to fire tear-gas shells to control the situation in the Madeyganj area, while nearly 20 people were taken into custody.
The Opposition Samajwadi Party and Congress legislators held their protest at the legislative assembly complex in Lucknow.
AMU teachers also held a silent march opposing the new law in Aligarh. "We feel that we are fighting for the idea of India as envisaged by the founding fathers of the nation. This is not a struggle for the rights of any particular community," AMU Teachers Association secretary, Professor Najmul Islam told PTI.
Hundreds of AMU students protesting against the amended Citizenship Act clashed with police on Sunday at a campus gate, leaving 60 injured. After the protest, the adminstration had announced closure of the university till 5 January.
A protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens in a Muslim-dominated area in Gujarat's Ahmedabad turned violent on Thursday, with at least five policemen getting injured in stone-pelting. The police lobbed teargas shells to disperse the mob of around 2,000 persons.
Protesters shouted slogans and held placards saying "No CAB No NRC". When the police tried to disperse them, the protesters started throwing stones and brick pieces.
Assistant Commissioner of Police RB Rana was among the policemen injured in the stone pelting. "I think at least five policemen were injured. I am not sure about the exact number. I was also injured," said Rana. Ahmedabad police commissioner Ashish Bhatia said the situation was now under control.
"We will identify the perpetrators and lodge FIRs against them. Barring the stone pelting in Shah-E-Alam area, no untoward incident took place in the city today. We have also detained some persons," he said.
Earlier in the afternoon, police baton-charged people who gathered in Sardar Baug garden in Mirzapur area in the city to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the NRC. Police dispersed nearly 200 protesters as they had not obtained permission for the demonstration, and at least 20 of them were detained, said inspector FM Nayab, a local police official.
The protest had been organised by Left parties including CPI and CPM and their associated organisations such as the All India Democratic Students Organisations and Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist).
In Bihar, members of left-wing student organisations squatted on railway tracks at Rajendra Nagar Terminus early in the morning, while hundreds of activists of Jan Adhikar Party (JAP), floated by controversial ex-MP Pappu Yadav, burnt tyres on an adjacent road.
They also vandalized an ambulance which tried to make its way through the road and head towards a residential locality nearby. In Jehanabad, which had been a stronghold of the ultra-Left movement in Bihar, CPM activists disrupted traffic on national highways.
In Maharashtra, the Congress, NCP and various other parties came together under a front called 'Hum Bharat Ke Log' for a protest rally at Mumbai's August Kranti Maidan, the place where in 1942 Mahatma Gandhi told the British rulers to quit India.
Noted freedom fighter GG Parikh, 94, who had participated in the Quit India movement in 1942, was present at the Maidan. "The Constitution, drafted by Dr BR Ambedkar, is being violated and is under attack. This is the reason that the entire country has chosen this day to condemn the unconstitutional and divisive laws of the BJP government," the front said.
The rally saw thousands of people, including workers of political parties, students, professionals and also a smattering of Bollywood personalities, who made a strong case against the Act and the NRC. However, Maharashtra's ruling alliance partner Shiv Sena kept itself out of the rally.
— ANI (@ANI) December 19, 2019
Protests in West Bengal, Assam, and Meghalaya, which were at the centre of the stir initially, were largely peaceful. Protests were also held in Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh, Jammu, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, among other states.
At a rally in Kolkata, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee dared the Modi government to go for a UN-monitored referendum over the amended law and the proposed nationwide NRC and said the BJP will have to quit if it fails such a "mass vote".
Two persons were arrested for hurling crude bombs on a group of anti-CAA protesters in West Bengal's North Dinajpur district, police said. At some places, including in the national capital and Mumbai, pro-CAA demonstrations were also held by some groups of people.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Dec 19, 2019 23:53:10 IST