"People who are setting fire (to property) can be seen on television. They can be identified by the clothes they are wearing," Prime Ministre Narendra Modi had said at an election rally in Jharkhand’s Dumka on Sunday, accusing the Congress and its allies of fuelling violence over the amended Citizenship Act as protests against the Act intensified across India.
Modi's comment invited the public's ire with senior Opposition leaders accusing the prime minister of being "callous" and harbouring "shallow" thoughts while protesters at Jamia Millia Islamia taking off their shirts to make a point.
ये कांग्रेस और उसके साथी हो-हल्ला मचा रहे हैं, तूफान खड़ा कर रहे हैं। उनकी बात चलती नहीं है तो आगजनी फैला रहे हैं। ये जो आग लगा रहे हैं, टीवी पर जो उनके दृश्य आ रहे हैं, ये आग लगाने वाले कौन हैं, उनके कपड़ों से ही पता चल जाता है: पीएम श्री @narendramodi #JharkhandModikeSaath pic.twitter.com/D7eWV2I62f
— BJP JHARKHAND (@BJP4Jharkhand) December 15, 2019
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee questioned Modi for his callousness as the country burns over protests against the contentious act. "The whole country is burning and they are talking about the clothes you are wearing. Can you tell who I am from seeing me and what I am wearing?" she asked.
Senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted a picture showing five people belonging to the South Mumbai chapter of All India Professional Congress wearing the skull caps and bearing vermillion marks on their foreheads.
“Modi’s remark shows how shallow his thoughts are. Shameful,” Singh wrote.
Modi’s remark shows how shallow his thoughts are! Shameful. https://t.co/JHibKijLMa
— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) December 17, 2019
Rashtriya Janata Dal MP Manoj Jha condemned the prime minister’s statement about the protesters’ “clothes” as a divisive message aimed at profiling a community.
“This is a dog whistle message; I condemn it strongly,” he said.
A day after Modi’s comment, students at the Jamia Millia Islamia University, where protests are being held since last week against the Citizenship Act, removed their shirts despite the chilly Delhi winter and formed a human chain to protest the police's entry and brutality inside the varsity campus.
On Sunday evening, miscreants vandalised vehicles and set three buses on fire in Delhi, and the police responded with lathi-charge and tear gas. Hours later, the Delhi police stormed into the campus of Jamia Milia Islamia, allegedly without the consent of the university administration. The students alleged that the police beat up both male and female students, broke into the library to baton-charge students and detained many students.
Protests have been raging across the entire northeast region and West Bengal over the amended Citizenship Act, as people fear that it might exacerbate the problem of illegal immigration.
The citizenship law, cleared by President Ramnath Kovind on 12 December, speeds up the process of granting Indian citizenship to all non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It has been widely criticised for setting religion as a criterion to grant citizenship in India.
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Updated Date: Dec 17, 2019 20:52:42 IST