Scale Of Protests Over CAA Show Decline; Supreme Court To Examine Constitutional Validity
Police and paramilitary personnel carried out a flag march in Delhi's north east area, even as the scale of protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act showed a decline across the country on Wednesday, and the Supreme Court decided to examine the constitutional validity of the contentious act but refused to stay its implementation.
The situation in Delhi's Seelampur and Jafrabad localities, where 21 people, including 12 cops were injured during a protest against the act on Tuesday, remained under control, but authorities imposed prohibitory orders as a precautionary measure.
The police have arrested eight people so far in connection with the violence on Tuesday.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has been at the forefront of opposing the National Register of Citizens and the new citizenship law, took out her third march in as many days after which she attacked Union Home Minister Amit Shah over violent protests across the country over the new law, saying, "your job is not to set the country on fire, but to douse it."
There was no fresh incident of violence reported in West Bengal and Assam also remained calm, officials said. These two states have witnessed number of violent protests after the passage of the contentious Citizenship (Amendement) Bill by Parliament on Dec. 11.
As the protesters, including students and local residents, continued with their agitation outside the Jamia Millia Islamia in Delhi for the third day, former Jawaharlal Nehru University students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar joined them said the demonstration was not just a fight to protect Muslims, but to protect the entire country.
Addressing a large gathering of protesters outside the university's gate number seven, Kumar said people should be more worried about the NRC, which he said was much more dangerous than the controversial citizenship act.
Dubbing the amended citizenship law as "divisive" and violative of constitutional provisions, Bahujan Samaj Party leaders met President Ram Nath Kovind and submitted a memorandum demanding that the law should be rescinded.
The party also demanded a judicial probe into "police excesses" on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University and Nawada seminary.
There were also protests in several parts of Maharashtra, including in Muslim-dominated area of Mumbra, and Madhya Pradesh's Bhopal.
Addressing the protest at Bhopal's Iqbal Maidan against the act, Congress leader Digvijay Singh made a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the 'pratham sevak' should take care of 'pratham sevika', besides taking care of Muslim mothers and sisters.
In Madras University, a section of students continued their protest for the third day and were supported by Makkal Needhi Maiam chief Kamal Haasan, who came to the campus to express his solidarity with them. However, he was not allowed to enter the main campus and spoke to the agitating students from behind the main gate of the university, opposite the Marina Beach.
Amidst widespread protests against the law, Union minister Jitendra Singh defended it and said it is going to preserve the country's vast resources, both natural and human, and there is a need to make people aware about this aspect of the newly enacted legislation.
Meanwhile, Left parties have announced that they will hold a nationwide protest against the act as well as the NRC on Thursday with Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Sitaram Yechury issuing a statement on behalf the Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist)-Liberation, Communist Party of India, All India Forward Bloc and Revolutionary Socialist Party and called on all district committees in all states to mobilise workers to protest against what they dubbed as the "unconstitutional moves" of the government.
In Chennai, a meeting of DMK and its allies, including the Left parties, demanded the Centre should immediately rescinded the act and slammed the proposed nationwide NRC as "antithetical" to the Constitution.
A resolution adopted at the meeting alleged the amendment had a "dimension of religion and race" and "ignored Eelam Tamils", and urged the Centre to immediately withdraw it based on good faith and to ensure peace.
However, the Supreme Court refused to stay implementation of the law that seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on or before Dec. 31, 2014.
Deciding to examine the constitutional validity of the act, abench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices BR Gavai and Surya Kant fixed 59 petitions, including those filed by the Indian Union Muslim League and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, for hearing on Jan. 22, next year.
Defending his party's decision to support the act, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and top All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader K Palaniswami saiditwill "not impact any Indian living in India, whichever religion they may profess", in his first reaction to the CAA after protests by students and opposition parties broke out in the state. Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said the ruling Biju Janata Dal does not support NRC but backed the amended citizenship law, noting that it applies only to foreigners.
He also appealed to the people of Odisha to maintain peace and not fall for rumours.
"The amended Citizenship Act has nothing to do with Indians. It deals only with foreigners. The BJD MPs both in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have made it clear that we do not support the NRC," Patnaik told reporters in Bhubaneswar.
The chief minister's statement came a day after people took out a peaceful rally in the state capital and urged Patnaik to make his government's stance clear on the amended law and the NRC.