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Anti-CAA protests claim six more lives in UP

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 20, 2019 Published on December 20, 2019

Police run past a burning bank building as they clash with protestors during a rally against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Muzaffarnagar, UP, on Friday   -  PTI

In Delhi, police use water cannons and lathicharge protestors; Sonia says government “suppressing” dissent

Six deaths were reported from different parts of Uttar Pradesh on Friday as violence spread through North India with the Delhi police using water cannons and lathicharging against protestors who demanded the immediate withdrawal of Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). One person had died in Lucknow and two more in Mangaluru in similar protests on Thursday.

The situation was volatile in UP as protestors clashed with the police in Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Meerut, Bulanshehr, Hapur and Muzaffarnagar. Incidents of police using force against protestors who burnt official vehicles and government buildings were reported.

Communication hit

Six people allegedly died in clashes with the police in Meerut, Firozabad, Amroha, Sambhal, Varanasi and Kanpur. Internet services were suspended across all major cities in UP and a few sensitive areas in West Bengal and Karnataka. UP’s Additional Chief Secretary Awanish Kumar Awasthi in an order issued on December 19 stated that “messaging systems like SMS and WhatsApp and social media systems like Facebook and YouTube may be used extensively for the transmission of information like pictures, videos and texts that have the potential to inflame passions and thus exacerbate the law and order situation.” Temporary suspension of SMS messages and mobile internet/data services of all telecom service providers was ordered for 45 hours beginning 15.00 hours on December 19, he said.

In West Bengal, a similar clampdown resulted in the shutdown of mobile internet in Malda, Murshidabad, Howrah, Barasat, North Dinajpur, Baruipur, Canning and Nadia. In Karnataka, internet services were suspended in the Dakshina Kannada district of Mangaluru.

Protests simultaneously engulfed many parts of Delhi such as Connaught Place, India Gate, Jama Masjid and Red Fort where thousands of people marched against CAA. The protestors disobeyed Section 144 imposed leading to clashes with Police in many areas. About 15 stations of the Delhi Metro remained closed and phone and internet connections reportedly faced disruptions in some parts of the city. The main protest started with the militant Dalit organisation, Bhim Army, leading a march to Jantar Mantar from Jama Masjid, which was blocked by the Police. Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Aazad said his march is to protect the Constitution. “I am sitting here on the stairs of Jama Masjid to tell the Modi government that we will not let you kill the Constitution. This country is ours and we will fight till the end to save it,” Aazad said in Twitter. He was detained by the Police but he later escaped from the Police vehicle and managed to enter the crowd of protestors again. The crowd later prevented the Police from arresting him again.

Anguished, says Sonia

The Opposition parties pledged support to the protests of students and citizens and NDA allies JD(U) and LJP have questioned the proposal for a nationwide registry of citizens. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in a statement, expressed deep anguish and concern over “the brute repression” unleashed by the BJP Government against the students, youth and citizens across the country. “There have been spontaneous protests in the universities, IITs, IIMs and other leading academic institutions across the country against the divisive agenda and the anti-people policies of the BJP. In a democracy, people have the right to raise their voice against wrong decisions and policies of the government and register their concerns. Equally, it is the duty of the government to listen to the citizens and address their concerns,” the UPA chairperson said.

She said the BJP government has shown utter disregard for people’s voices and chose to use brute force to suppress dissent. “This is unacceptable in a democracy. She said and maintained that the CAA is discriminatory and the proposed nationwide NRC will particularly hurt the poor and vulnerable. “Like at the notebandi, they will have to stand in line to prove their and their ancestors citizenship. People’s apprehensions are real and legitimate. The Congress assures the people of India that it is fully committed to stand up and defend their fundamental rights and uphold the foundational values of our Constitution,” she said.

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Published on December 20, 2019
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