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CAA protest: SC refuses to form inquiry panel; Opposition to meet Prez

Opposition seeks intervention on recall of citizenship law

Archis Mohan & PTI  |  New Delhi/Kolkata 

Demonstrators protest against the new citizenship law in the Seelampur area of New Delhi. Photo: Reuters
Demonstrators protest against the new citizenship law in the Seelampur area of New Delhi. Photo: Reuters

As protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and proposed Register of Citizens (NRC) continued in several parts of the country, including on university campuses and the streets of the capital, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said high courts should be approached first on pleas alleging police atrocities on persons protesting against the law.

The court also asked as to how buses were burnt during the protests.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde commenced hearing on pleas including that of Alumni Association Jamia Millia Islamia University.

“We don't want to spend time knowing facts, you should go to courts below first,” said the bench.

In a report to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), the Delhi Police said it has arrested 10 people in connection with the violence at Jamia Millia, and none of them were students. An MHA official said an empty cartridge was found from the area but the police did not fire any bullets on protesters.

The apex court also agreed to hear on Wednesday the plea by a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader seeking a direction to the Centre and three states, including West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, to publicise the “factual” aspects of the CAA. The MHA also circulated facts on the CAA.

Addressing a public meeting in Jharkhand’s Bhognadih, Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused the “Congress and its friends” of spreading lies among Muslims over the new citizenship law, and dared them to declare they will accord Indian nationality to all Pakistanis.

The PM also asked students, thousands of whom are protesting CAA in campuses across the country, to try and see whether they were not being made accomplices in a “conspiracy” where “urban naxals” and others were using their “shoulders to fire” to serve their own interests.

Addressing an event in Mumbai, Union Home Minister Amit Shah said in his television interviews that the CAA will not be rolled back, and “the government was firm like a rock on its implementation”.

In a related development, Gauhar Rizvi, advisor to Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on international affairs, said, “We will take back any Bangladeshi citizen staying in India illegally. But India has to prove that,” Rizvi said in Kolkata. He said Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Buddhists co- exist peacefully in Bangladesh.

India on Tuesday strongly rejected a resolution adopted by Pakistan assembly on the amended citizenship law, calling it a poorly disguised effort to divert attention from Islamabad's “appalling treatment” and “persecution” of its own religious minorities.

India also dismissed as “falsehoods” Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's comments at a global refugee conference that millions of Muslims could flee India due to “clampdown” in Kashmir and CAA. Commenting on CAA and NRC, Khan said, “if 2-3 per cent of Muslims cannot prove their citizenship, it will be a challenge... I ask the international community to look into it”.

ALSO READ: Amid nationwide protests, Amit Shah says no going back on Citizenship Act

Leaders of several Opposition parties, including Congress President Sonia Gandhi, met President Ram Nath Kovind in the evening to submit a memorandum to him that urged him to intervene on the issue of violence in central universities and advise the Modi government to withdraw the “unconstitutional and divisive” CAA.

Sonia Gandhi, who led the Opposition delegation, alleged the Modi government was “shutting down” people's voices and bringing legislations which are not acceptable to them. “All of us, representatives of 12 different political parties have met the President to plead with him to intervene in the situation in the Northeast, which is now spreading throughout the country including the capital in the Jamia University, because of the Act.

ALSO READ: Linking Citizenship Act with NRC most unfortunate: Niti Aayog vice-chairman

“It is a very serious situation. We fear that it may spread even further.

We are anguished at the manner in which the police have dealt with peaceful demonstrations across India,” she said. On its foundation day on December 28, the Congress party will hold flag marches in all state headquarters across country with the slogan “Save India-Save Constitution”.

Protests over the amended stretched into fifth day in West Bengal, with agitators on Tuesday blocking roads and railway tracks in parts of the state, officials said. In neighbouring Assam, curfew was lifted in Guwahati following improvement in the law and order situation.

ALSO READ: Citizenship Act: What will attract Bangladesh and Pakistan Hindus to India?

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee led a protest march in Kolkata against CAA. The state unit of BJP also took out rallies in support of the law.

chart, PM Modi

“I give an open challenge to Congress... If they have courage, let them announce they are ready to give Indian citizenship to all Pakistanis… Article 370 will be restored... Triple talaq will be back” Narendra Modi, Prime Minister

chart, Sonia Gandhi

“It is a very serious situation. We fear that it may spread even further. We are anguished at the manner in which the police have dealt with peaceful demonstrations across India”

Sonia Gandhi, Congress president

chart, Amit Shah

“There is no going back on Citizenship Act, government is firm like rock on its implementation... Rahul Gandhi can’t be Veer Savarkar; it takes a lot of sacrifice, dedication to be Savarkar”

Amit Shah, Union home minister

First Published: Wed, December 18 2019. 00:58 IST