Delhi Transport Corporation bus set ablaze by protesters over the Citizenship Amendment Act near Jamia Nagar in New Delhi on Sunday (Photo: PTI)
Delhi Transport Corporation bus set ablaze by protesters over the Citizenship Amendment Act near Jamia Nagar in New Delhi on Sunday (Photo: PTI)

Protests against Citizenship Act turn violent in Delhi, West Bengal

  • Agitators torch buses in Delhi as protests intensify at Jamia Millia, internet suspended in parts of Bengal
  • More than ten separate petitions have already been filed in Supreme Court against the amended Citizenship Act

New Delhi: Protests over the new Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 that began in the North-East last week spread to more states on Sunday, turning violent in parts of West Bengal and Delhi. In Assam’s capital Guwahati, two more persons died of bullet wounds, raising the toll in police firing during the protests to four.

In south Delhi, protesters torched buses and a fire tender in the evening. Protests inside and outside the Jamia Millia Islamia University intensified as police entered the university to take control of the situation. Police blocked the entry and exit gates of the university and lathi-charged protesters, before rounding up scores of them.

A student from the university said policemen entered the reading halls and campus mosque inside the varsity, following which a scuffle broke out between police and students. “Dozens of students were injured in the police action, and the police asked students to move out quickly while keeping their hands up," the student said.

A man runs past a burning bus that was set on fire by demonstrators during a protest against a new citizenship law, in New Delhi (Photo: Reuters)
A man runs past a burning bus that was set on fire by demonstrators during a protest against a new citizenship law, in New Delhi (Photo: Reuters)

Delhi Metro Rail Corp. said the city police has advised it to close the entry and exit gates of Sukhdev Vihar station and Gate No.3 of Ashram station, and asked Metro trains not to stop at these stations. Later, four more Metro stations in and around Jamia Millia University were closed, besides various road stretches in south Delhi, to restrict the movement of protesters.

Meanwhile, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed protesters to keep calm and not indulge in violence. “No one should indulge in violence. Any kind of violence is unacceptable. Protests should remain peaceful," he said. Delhi Police told PTI that six of its personnel were injured in the violence.

The Citizenship Act amended by Parliament last week aims to provide citizenship to “any person belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian community from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan, who entered India on or before 31 December, 2014". Critics say the Act violates the Constitution by discriminating against Muslims.

The developments in West Bengal have come just a day ahead of chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s scheduled mega rally by Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Monday. Banerjee, whose party has vociferously opposed the legislation, on Sunday appealed for peace and warned of stern action against those indulging in violence.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at an election rally in Jharkhand, “People of North-East have rejected violent agitation and are now protesting peacefully against amended Citizenship Act."

As political opposition grows against the legislation, more than ten separate petitions have already been filed in Supreme Court against it. Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), BJP’s ally in Assam, said on Sunday that it would file a petition in the apex court praying for revocation of the amended Act according to party leader Kumar Deepak Das.

According to a news report, former union Minister P. Chidambaram will file another petition on behalf of former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi. All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) President Asaduddin Owaisi and Congress’ Lok Sabha member T.N. Prathapan too have filed separate petitions in the Supreme Court on Saturday. Earlier petitions filed include those by TMC lawmaker Mahua Moitra and senior Congress leader and former union minister Jairam Ramesh.

Firefighters douse the fire on Delhi Transport Corporation buses that set ablaze by protesters over the Citizenship Amendment Act near Bharat Nagar in New Delhi on Sunday (Photo: ANI)
Firefighters douse the fire on Delhi Transport Corporation buses that set ablaze by protesters over the Citizenship Amendment Act near Bharat Nagar in New Delhi on Sunday (Photo: ANI)

According to people aware of developments, more petitions are expected to be filed by Monday morning. The advocates of the various petitioners are likely to mention the case for urgent hearing before the Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde on Monday. It will depend upon the Chief Justice whether he would accede to their request for urgent hearing or not. In case he does not allow urgent hearing then the case will be listed as a regular case.

Japnam K. Bindra and PTI contributed to the story

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