There seems to be no backing down on nationwide protests against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, as youth across the country are taking to the streets expressing solidarity with Jamia Milia Islamia University, demanding justice for students who were injured after Delhi Police’s alleged use of excessive force and abuse of power over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has asked the High Court to look into the matter. One hopes that the courts will inquire into allegations of police excesses and human rights violations. Prima facie, it appears that outsiders rather than the students, some with criminal antecedents, have played a role in the violence.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, too, did not strike the right note, when she equated the leadership of protesting students with extremists, jihadists, Maoists and the like.
Students from Chennai, Jadavpur, Mumbai, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and several other cities demonstrated against the Act, that appears to offer no respite to Muslims in the country.
According to the CAA, undocumented Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan cannot seek Indian citizenship but undocumented Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Christians can. The government’s claims to ‘inclusiveness’ lack conviction amidst this context.
Although the Delhi Police PRO MS Randhawa stated that “no firing took place”, videos and posts shared by Jamia students and alumni tell a different story. The police — reportedly — forcibly entered several campuses and went on the rampage, seemingly attacking without provocation.
Similar pro-democracy demonstrations by the youth rocked Hong Kong in recent months, as thousands of protesters demanded the repeal of the Extradition Bill. Both, in Hong Kong and India, the youth are staring at a grim future without feeling safe in their countries in the present. Here, they seek Constitutional protection to avoid being persecuted in the country they grew up in.
The Prime Minister’s assurances on Muslims’ safety are not sufficient. The impression that has been conveyed is best expressed in George Orwell’s Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
The writer is Sub Editor with BusinessLine