CAB: Jamia Students Met With Lathicharge as Protests Rock India Post Friday Prayers

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Jamia Students Protesting against CAB

Zafar Afaq | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI – Thousands of students of Jamia Milia Islamia Friday held a massive protest demonstration outside the main gate of the university campus against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act passed in the Indian parliament earlier this week.

Just after congregational Friday prayers the students, according to the plan gathered in the park near the gate, and started the march towards the Parliament Street.

However, just meters ahead, a large contingent of police donning anti-riot gear, put up two layers of metallic barricades blocking the protest march.

The enraged student tried to break the barrier resulting in strong police response including caning, tear gas shelling. The police also repeatedly fired stun grenades triggering loud bangs to disperse the protesting students. Many students were injured during the police action, including due to stampede in repeated back and forth attempts. Nearly 15 injured students were removed to nearby hospitals for treatment.

The police detained over three dozen students and lodged them in Badarpur police station. “The police bundled students in an armed person carrier and took them to the police station,” said Mohammad Siraj, a student who had donned a white rob displaying slogans against the legislation.

Despite use of force, the protesting students stayed put and kept demonstrating for several hours. The demonstration was marked by anti- government slogans and drum beating to revolutionary chants.

The angry students demanded roll back of the legislation, now a law, terming it ‘discriminatory’.

The bill aims to grant citizenship to all people of all faiths except Muslims who have migrated to India before 2014 from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, despite secularism, being one of the fundamental pillars of Indian constitution. The government of nationalist Hindu right-wing BJP argues that the bill will provide relief to the persecuted non-Muslim minorities. But critics find the argument vacuous saying that such a benevolence should be extended to Tamil and Rohingyas persecuted in Sri Lanka and Burma respectively.

A prima facie reading of the bill implies that it will help accommodate Hindu migrants of Bengali ethnicity who fail to pass citizenship test under NRC. The Muslim excluded from NRC will be put in detention centers.

   In the Northeast, the local population is up in arms against the bill as they are worried that opening the gates to the foreign migrants to the migrants will be detrimental for their indigenous culture and resources. The situation in the state of Assam is volatile even as state has enforced internet shutdown, curfew and stalled the right to assemble. Thursday police shot dead two protesters who were part of the protests defying the restrictions.

The police action on university students was widely condemned by prominent secular voices. The university Alumni association condemned the Delhi police for acting “brutally” against the students and demanded release of those detained.

Protests marches were also witnessed in several other cities of India post Friday prayers. In Patna, the Capital of Bihar, Ghulam Rasool Bhalwayi, a lawmaker from ruling party JDU in the state, joined the protesters even as his party is ally of BJP in central government.

In Hyderabad, a city in India’s south with a sizeable Muslim population, marchers rallies through the streets on the call of a student’s organization, the SIO. Talha Faiyazuddin, the local head of the organization, who led the protest march termed the legislation, “unconstitutional and illegal”. He accused the government of furthering its ‘fascist pro-Hindu’ rightwing agenda by bringing this legislation.

A few other organizations had also lent support to the call for rally against the legislation. “This government is instilling fear in common man,” one protester said, ‘they should stop intimidating people.”

Huge protests were held in New Delhi, Hyderabad, Bihar’s several districts like Gaya, Araria and Bhagalpur, Rajasthan’s Sawai Madhopur, Karnataka’s Gulberga, Madhya Paradesh’s Bhopal, Bengal’s Howrah, Uttar Pradehs’s Lucknow, Maharashtra’s Nanded and other parts of India.

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