Protests against citizenship law continue across India

New Delhi, Jan 03 (KMS): Agitation and unrest over the Citizenship Amendment Act continues into the new year. A day after the Kerala Assembly passed a resolution seeking withdrawal of the citizenship law, Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there is no escape from the implementation of the law, and emphasised such a procedure is against the Constitution.
Meanwhile, amid new year celebrations, protests against the amended citizenship law continued in various parts of Delhi including at Shaheen Bagh, Jamia university and the India Gate where agitators sang legendary poet Faiz Ahamed Faiz’s ‘Hum Dekhenge’ and pledged to “defend the Constitution,” reported foreign media on Thursday.
In Tamil Nadu, Tamil orator Nellai Kannan, who allegedly made provocative remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah over the CAA last week, was taken into custody late Wednesday night.
Meanwhile, the Popular Front of India (PFI) rubbished the allegations by the Uttar Pradesh Police that the organisation had played a key role in triggering violence during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in the state.
In a statement, PFI’s General Secretary M Muhammed Ali Jinnah said the allegations were “absurd” and a “face-saving act” by the Uttar Pradesh Police. The PFI’s statement rubbishing the UP Police’s allegations have come a day after the latter sent a letter to the state home department seeking a ban on the PFI. The request was made in the backdrop of a probe conducted by the UP Police which found PFI’s involvement in the violent protests against the amended citizenship law and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) that took place on December 19.
In a statement, the PFI said while anti-CAA protests took place all over the country, it was only in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states that the government tried to suppress the people’s democratic rights to dissent. The organization said it was only in Uttar Pradesh that the “protests turned into bloodbath and destruction”.
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh Police arrested 25 members of the PFI from various districts in connection with the violent protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Lucknow and other criminal activities.
Meanwhile, Indian lyricist Javed Akhtar termed the latest controversy over the recitation of renowned Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s noted poem ‘Hum Dekhenge’ at the IIT-Kanpur campus as “absurd and funny”.
Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur) has set up a panel to investigate if Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s iconic poem ‘Hum Dekhenge’ is “anti-Hindu”. Javed Akhtar said that calling Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s poem anti-Hindu is so “absurd and funny” that it is difficult to even seriously talk about it. The lyricist said that Faiz Ahmed Faiz wrote ‘Hum Dekhenge’ against Ziaul Haq’s “communal, regressive and fundamentalist” regime “Faiz Ahmed Faiz was like a leading star of the progressive writers who emerged in undivided India,” Javed Akhtar said.
An IIT-K student sang the poem ‘Hum Dekhenge’ by Faiz against which a complaint was filed by Dr Vashimant Sharma, a temporary faculty member, and about 16 others including faculty members and students.
Meanwhile, protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) continued in Assam on New Year’s Day with people staging dharnas in various cities in the state. Guwahati and Sivsagar saw well attended protests while small-scale protests against CAA were reported in Jorhat, Golaghat, Nagaon and Dibrugarh.
In Sivasagar, a unique protest was held against the Citizenship Amendment Act where several protesters tonsured their heads to express their anguish over the new citizenship law.
In Guwahati, hundreds of students, and people from other walks of life staged protests in different locations against the new citizenship act and demanded the government to scrap the CAA immediately.
Participants at a protest rally organised by the All Assam Law Students’ Union in Guwahati termed CAA to be unlawful and said the people of Assam won’t accept it any cost.
Youth artist Hirumoni Doley registered his protest against the CAA by drawing a map of Assam and wrote ‘CAA pora Axomok Mukti Diyak’ (release Assam from CAA) with paint on a traditional Assamese gamusa using his nose.
While Tamil scholar Nellai Kannan arrested for his remarks on PM Modi, Amit Shah. The arrest comes hours after BJP’s senior leaders staged a sit-in protest at Gandhi Statue in Marina beach, demanding Nellai Kannan’s arrest. The four senior leaders of the BJP who led the protest were Pon Radhakrishnan, CP Radhakrishnan, L Ganeshan and H Raja.
Speaking at an event organised by the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) on Saturday, Nellai Kannan had said that he was puzzled why the Muslims have not yet killed Modi and Shah. “Amit Shah is the brain behind PM Modi and the two of them should have been finished. But that hasn’t happened yet.” He had also made critical comments against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K.Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam and others.
BJP has claimed that Nellai Kannan’s statement was intended to instigate violence against the prime minister and home minister and was a threat to the life of PM and HM. A hyper-partisanship and hostility in Capitol Hill likely affecting US-India ties and posing a threat to decades of bipartisan goodwill that has been the fulcrum of bilateral relationship. Leading the hostility is the “progressive, liberal” section of the US Congress ” a 535-strong inalienable part of the US government comprising House of Representatives and Senate with massive fiscal clout and diplomatic sway ” that until recently was a strong bipartisan backer of India.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Democrats have been sharply critical of India, taking umbrage at Narendra Modi government’s recent steps over revocation of Article 370 and enactment of Citizenship Amendment Act. While some have brought House Resolutions on India’s handling of Kashmir, some lawmakers running for Presidency have openly wondered whether India is turning into an ‘illiberal democracy’ under a ‘Hindu majoritarian’, ‘Islamophobic’ government where Muslims are relegated as ‘second class citizens’.
Consequently, this “progressive wing” is pressurising the US Congress and the Donald Trump administration to impose greater costs on India, rethink the strategic partnership and doing away with ‘strategic altruism’. Opinion is divided over whether this sermonising by the ultra-Left in the US will have any visible impact to bilateral ties but there’s no question that the US Congress, which tends to take an independent view on international relations, may become more and more critical of India.

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