Police used tear gas to disperse large crowds in New Delhi yesterday in the latest eruption of violence at protests over a new citizenship law, police officials said.
Hundreds of people supporting the Citizenship Amendment Act clashed with those opposing it, with the two groups pelting each other with stones in the Maujpur area in the northeastern part of the city.
“There must be some miscreants who want to spoil the peace in the area. We will identify them and take action against them,” Alok Kumar, a senior Delhi police official, told reporters about the protest.
“The situation is under control now,” he added.
The protest comes just a day before US President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit to India, where he is expected to raise the issue of religious freedom in the country with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Yesterday, a separate protest also erupted in the northern city of Aligarh, where protesters threw stones at the police, state administration official Chandra Bhushan Singh said.
The Internet in the area had been suspended until midnight, he added.
Maujpur is near Jaffrabad, where anti-CAA protesters have barricaded the road since Saturday night in support of the shutdown call given by Chandrasekhar Azad of Bhim Army.
In Lucknow, Shia Muslim body ‘Majlis-e-Ulama-e-Hind’, has refuted reports that its general secretary Maulana Kalbe Jawad Naqvi had any role in the shutdown call.
The clarification comes in the wake of the Maulana’s name being linked to the shutdown call.
Meanwhile, the Congress is riding high on the popularity of student leader Kanhaiya Kumar who is leading the anti-CAA protest in Bihar which started from Champaran on January 30.
Party secretary Shakil Khan, who is also a former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president, is also with Kumar in this movement which will end up with a massive rally in Gandhi Maidan in Patna on February 27.
Khan termed Kumar the “roohe-rawan (soul)” of the movement, which is drawing huge crowds across the state.
“All opposition leaders have been invited for the grand rally and we will pressure the government to pass an anti-CAA resolution as the assembly is in session,” Khan, who is also a legislator, said.
He also stressed that “this movement is for a cause and there is no politics into it”.
The rally on February 27 could see the presence of all leaders who have been at the front of anti-CAA movement, as Mahatma Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi, Jignesh Mevani, Sadaf Jafar, and current JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh have been invited.
The Congress is trying to build pressure on the government to withdraw the controversial law.
Khan, asked why he was with Kumar, said: “The Congress Working Committee has passed a resolution on this issue...the party’s stand is very clear and our leader Rahul Gandhi has addressed several (anti-CAA) public meetings. We also sat on protest at Rajghat.”
The Congress eyes an opportunity to activate all the opposition leaders and assemble them on one platform to take on the government on the CAA, said a leader.
Kumar is drawing huge crowds in his protest, despite a number of attacks on him.
“Every district has a co-ordination committee to work on and in each district, all the local MLAs and office bearers are invited to participate in the public rally to be addressed by Kanhaiya Kumar,” Khan said.
With still eight months left for assembly elections in Bihar, the CAA shadow appears to loom large as all political parties in the state have started gearing up to blow the bugle to its tune.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has supported the CAA which is making Mulim leaders of the Janata Dal (United) nervous.
Sources say that many of the unhappy Muslim leaders of the JD-U are in two minds whether to continue in the party or jump ship.
A political analyst and senior journalist in Patna said, “The CAA is affecting the politics in the whole country. The recently-held elections in Delhi saw a total polarisation of the Muslim votes. Bihar cannot remain aloof.”
The CAA, which eases the path for non-Muslims from neighbouring Muslim-majority nations to gain citizenship, has triggered weeks of sometimes violent protests against Modi’s government.
The law is seen by opponents as discriminating against Muslims and has deepened concerns that Modi’s administration is undermining India’s secular traditions.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party denies any bias against the country’s 180mn Muslims.
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