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As you may have seen in recent news reports, there’s widespread unrest across the country. On Dec 15, students of Jamia Milia Islamia University organised a peaceful protest against the newly amended Citizenship Act that is expected to disproportionately affect Muslims in India. It has been called a direct assault on the Constitution of India, a violation of Article 14 which guarantees that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
Civil society activists, media persons, and eminent members from academia, the scientific community, and the entertainment industry have also come out and voiced their concerns about the Bill and the government’s response to the protests.
“Couched in the language of refuge and seemingly directed at foreigners, the Citizenship Amendment Bill’s main purpose is the de-legitimization of Muslim citizenship,” writes Indian historian Mukul Kesavan in Telegraph India.
“We believe Citizenship Amendment Bill is discriminatory and it violates the constitutional values. We don’t accept this bill and if it becomes a law we shall boycott its execution,” said filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt.
These protests have been met with brute police retaliation all over India. According to reports, five people have been killed in Assam, there has been massive damage to lives and public property throughout the country.
Those who engage in vandalism and destruction of public property must be held accountable for their actions. But can one justify the police forces storming the gates of universities across the country and attacking students at random? What justifies the use of tear gas, lathis on unarmed peaceful protesters?
Men in uniform were filmed and photographed breaking into the library, lathi-charging students, and hurling tear gas shells at them. The police even forced some students to walk through campus with their arms raised. Police brutality sent more than 100 students to the hospital with serious injuries.
Jamia student Mohammad Kamil told India Today that Police didn’t stop just at the library and canteen. “Police entered the mosque inside the campus and harassed those who were praying,” he said.
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