Citizenship Act protests: From Delhi to Shillong, demonstrators hit the streets
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has deferred his visit to Guwahati.
Protests against the amendments to the Citizenship Act on Friday in Delhi’s Jamia Milia University turned violent. Police reportedly lathicharged the crowd and used tear gas to control them.
Large groups of agitators came out in protest against the amendments to the law in several North East states of Meghalaya, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh. The Naga Students’ Federation has called a six-hour bandh in protest against the amended citizenship law on Saturday.
Guwahati is the epicentre of the protests, where at least two protestors were killed and 11 suffered bullet injuries on Thursday.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said he will not tolerate any violence, and that strong action will be taken against protestors involved in vandalism. Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu directed police personnel to conduct patrols, and ensure residents of the state are safe.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah cancelled his trip to Shillong on Sunday in light of the protests.
11.28 pm: BJP Working President JP Nadda has asked party MPs to speak to non-Muslim migrants in their constituencies and inform them about the amended law, reports ANI. They are expected to do so between December 14 and December 31.
11.25 pm: National Democratic Alliance ally Goa Forward Party has joined protests against the amended law in Margao city of Goa, reports News18. It’s chief Vijai Sardesai says the party stood for communal harmony, inclusivity, and progressiveness, adding “did the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill mean “communal ammunition bill”.
11.20 pm: BJP leader Ashish Shelar writes to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, asking him to implement the amended Citizenship Act immediately, reports Firstpost. “As you are aware, the historic Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by both the Houses of the Parliament,” the letter reads. “It should be immediately implemented in Maharashtra as well once it comes in effect in the rest of the country after the President gives assent to it.”
President Ram Nath Kovind has given his assent to the amended law earlier late on Thursday.
11.18 pm: A case has been filed against Dravida Munetra Kazhagam Youth Wing Secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin for protesting against the amended law and for tearing off a copy of the Citizenship Act earlier on Friday, reports ANI.
11.17 pm: Deputy Commissioner of Police South East Delhi Chinmoy Biswal says the situation in Jamia Milia Islamia University is under control. “The protesters pelted stones at police which has left 12 police personnel injured, two among them are in ICU,” he says.
11.13 pm: Chief Public Relations Officer of Northeast Frontier Railway says special passenger trains are being run to help passengers who are stranded at Guwahati so that they can reach Upper Assam. “One train was was operated yesterday to Dimapur and one each to Furkating and Dibrugarh today [Friday],” the official tells ANI.
10.26 pm: Call for a protest in Mumbai on December 19:
10.23 pm: Visuals from a protest march in Mumbai. Protestors say the police dragged them during a peaceful agitation.
9.10 pm: Leader of Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly Debabrata Saikia, Congress MP Abdul Khaleque, and the party’s MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi moved the Supreme Court against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The plea will be mentioned for urgent listing on Monday. Advocates Syed Burhanur Rahman and Pyoli will represent them.
8.54 pm: Eight columns of the Indian Army and Assam Rifles have been deployed in Assam to tackle the ongoing protests, reports PTI. Defence Public Relation Officer Lt Col P Khongsai said the security personnel are deployed in Morigaon, Sonitpur and Dibrugarh districts apart from Guwahati.
8.49 pm: Congress minister Nitin Raut says his party will not allow the implementation of the amended law in the state. “The Congress is opposed to the amended act and we will not let it be implemented in Maharashtra,” he tells PTI. “I think Uddhavji [Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray] will completely cooperate with us.”
8.46 pm: West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar criticises Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for refusing to implement the amended citizenship law in the state. “It is no longer a bill, but a law,” he says, according to PTI. “The Parliament had cleared the bill, following which the President gave his assent. So a chief minister, who is holding a constitutional post and has taken oath of the Indian Constitution, can’t just say that she will not implement the law.”
8.44 pm: Earlier in the day, Janata Dal (United) leader Gulam Rasool has taken part in a protest rally in Patna, Bihar against the amended citizenship law, report PTI.
8.39 pm: United Nations Human Rights has raised concerns against the amendments to the Citizenship Act. The world body has described the legislation as “discriminatory in nature”.
“While the goal of protecting persecuted groups is welcome, this should be done through a robust national asylum system that is premised on the principle of equality and non-discrimination, and which applies to all people in need of protection from persecution and other human rights violations, with no distinction as to race, religion, national origin or other prohibited grounds,” the statement read.
8.25 pm: Assam Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta tells NDTV that the situation in the state is under control. “We are on our way to peace,” he says. “Today is a much better day, but we will keep a tight vigil. We have our duties in place, and our teams are working tirelessly.”
8.11 pm: The alumni of Jamia Millia Islamia University has issued a statement on the police action against protesting students, reports India Today. They call for the immediate release of detained students, action and inquiry against the police brutality, and ask authorities to rescind the amendments to the citizenship law.
7.55 pm: The Northeast Frontier Railway says at least 106 passenger trains stand cancelled or short-terminated due to protests, reports PTI. Trains including Guwahati-Jorhat Janshatabdi Express, up and down Tinsukia-Naharlagun Intercity Express, Rajendranagar-New Tinsukia Express, Sealdah-Silchar Kanchanjungha Express are cancelled for Saturday.
The Rajdhani Express that left New Delhi on Thursday has also been short terminated.
7.52 pm: Commander-in- Chief of United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) chief Paresh Baruah cautions authorities against use of force on protestors, reports PTI. “Students, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, and all sections of the society have come out in large numbers to protest peacefully but force was used by the authorities in an attempt to repress them,” Baruah says. “If this continues, we will not tolerate it and give a befitting reply.”
7.37 pm: Maldives’ Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed says the amended law is India’s internal matter, reports PTI. “I have complete trust in Indian democracy and whatever comes out from the process would be what majority of people from India want,” Nasheed says. “India is one of the safe haven for persecuted minority communities.”
7.33 pm: Visuals from a protest against the amendments to the law in Margao, Goa:
7.27 pm: The parliamentary committee on Home Affairs has postponed its field trip to Assam from December 18 to December 21 in view of the protests, reports PTI.
7.21 pm: Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Ram Madhav claims to be the first to secure an Inner Line Permit to enter Manipur on Friday.
7.17 pm: The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union has asked the Centre and the state government to clarify their stand on the Chakma-Hajong refugees. “We want a clear-cut answer from New Delhi whether the Chakma-Hajongs will remain as refugees or as citizens,” the group’s chief Hawa Bagang tells PTI. “If they [refugees] are given the citizenship status where will they be settled?”
7.11 pm: Earlier in the day, students and teachers of Aligarh Muslim University protested against the amendments to the citizenship law. They have handed over two memorandums to authorities, calling for the immediate withdrawal of the amendments to the Citizenship Act.
Citizenship Act protests: FIR against AMU students for defying prohibitory orders
7.07 pm: Arunachal chief minister asks Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar and Director General of Police RP Upadhyaya to direct police personnel to conduct patrols, and ensure residents of the state are safe, reports PTI.
7.05 pm: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu asks state officials to ensure strict checking of Inner Line Permits in check points set up across the state. The permit is a document that outsiders need before travelling to places defined as “protected areas” in some states in the North East. The Inner Line Permit system covers the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, most of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura, Manipur and certain pockets of Assam.
Nagaland extends Inner Line Permit system to whole of Dimapur district
6.59 pm: List of trains that are cancelled:
6.51 pm: Visuals from earlier on Friday of security forces on the streets of Guwahati, Assam:
6.50 pm: Opposition Leader in Kerala and Congress’ Ramesh Chennithala says the party has requested Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for a joint protest against the law. “[The ] chief minister has agreed, all ministers and leaders of the Assembly and Opposition also will sit together at Martyrs Column on December 16 [Monday] to raise our voice,” he tells ANI.
6.42 pm: Congress leader P Chidambaram says the amended law will be vulnerable in court and describes it as unconstitutional. “When this government fails, they [the leaders] come out with past context,” he tells India Today. “Their focus is to fulfill their Hindu Rashtra agenda. The net result of CAB [Citizenship Amendment Bill] and NRC [National Register of Citizens] will be to exclude Muslims.”
6.35 pm: At least 50 protestors at Jamia Milia Islamia were detained, and the police has banned large gatherings in the area, PTI reports. “We had placed barricades which they [students] broke and tried to jump over them,” an unidentified senior police official says. “Then they threw stones at us forcing us to use teargas shells. The students have been detained and taken to Badarpur police station.”
6.32 pm: Six trains stand cancelled and two partially cancelled due to the protests in the North East, reports ANI, quoting Deepak Kumar, the chief public relations officer of Northern Railway.
6.29 pm: Earlier in the day, students unions in Arunachal Pradesh boycotted exams to protest against the amended citizenship law. A large group of demonstrators, led by Rajiv Gandhi University Students’ Union and Students’ Union of North Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology marched to Raj Bhavan, reports PTI.
6.22 pm: The Naga Students’ Federation has called a six-hour bandh in protest against the amended citizenship law on Saturday, reports Firstpost. The agitation will begin at 6 am and will go on till 12 pm. “...to express the resentment of the Naga people against the passing of the contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in the Parliament, much against the interests and sentiments of the indigenous people in the North East states,” reads the statement.
6.17 pm: Train services in Sealdah division of the Eastern Railway was disrupted due to protests against the amendments to the Citizenship Act, unidentified officials tell PTI. Trains between Sealdah and Krishnanagar areas are still running.
6.09 pm: Visuals from a protest rally in Shillong.
6.05 pm: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal says he will not tolerate any violence, and adds that strong action will be taken against protestors involved in vandalism, reports PTI. “I am committed to protect the rights of the indigenous people of Assam,” he says. “Congress, communal forces behind Assam violence. No one who is involved in violence will be spared.”
5.50 pm: Visuals from Friday’s protest rally against the amendments to the Citizenship Act in Shillong. Twenty people are reportedly injured in the agitation.
5.46 pm: Maharashtra Home Minister Eknath Shinde speaks on the amendments to the Citizenship Act, says people of all caste, religion and language live in Maharashtra. “All of them should feel that this government is theirs,” he tells ANI. “Our government will continue to maintain a free atmosphere and see that law and order is maintained.”
He adds that there is no pressure on the Shiv Sena on the matter and that the party’s chief Uddhav Thackeray will take a decision in the state’s interest.
5.39 pm: The Beldanga railway station in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district was set ablaze, PTI reports, citing unidentified Railway Protection Force officials.
5.32 pm: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation says entry and exit for all metro stations are now open. Normal services has been resumed.
5.28 pm: Officials say efforts are being made to help passengers stuck at airports, railway stations, and inter-state bus terminals, reports PTI. Kamrup (Metro) district spokesperson says buses are being arranged to transport stranded commuters at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport, bus and railway stations.
5.24 pm: Some more visuals from the agitation against amendments to the Citizenship Act outside Jamia Milia Islamia University:
5.23 pm: Visuals outside Jamia Milia Islamia in Delhi where police are clashing with protestors:
5.03 pm: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has closed entry and exit gates at Patel Chowk and Janpath stations due to protests. Trains will not stop at these two stations.
5.02 pm: More visuals from Jamia Milia Islamia University:
4.55 pm: Visuals from Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University where a protest has broken out:
4.53 pm: At least 11 petitions filed in the Supreme Court against the Citizenship Amendment Act so far. The pleas were filed by:
- Indian Union Muslim League.
- Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra.
- Peace Party.
- Former Union minister and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.
- NGOs Rihai Manch and Citizens Against Hate.
- Ehtesham Hashmi, a Supreme Court lawyer.
- Kirit Pradyot Deb Barman, the head of the Tripura royal family.
- Jan Adhikaar Party General secretary Faizuddin
- Former Ambassador to Bangladesh Deb Mukherjee and others.
- Advocate ML Sharma.
- A group of students from Symbiosis Law School.
4.41 pm: Union Home Minister Amit Shah cancels trip to Shillong to visit the North East Police Academy, reports ANI. He is scheduled to be in Jharkhand on Saturday and Monday.
4.38 pm: The Meghalaya state government has issued helpline numbers for those stranded in Shillong.
4.35 pm: Protests against the amendments to the Citizenship Act in Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia University turns violent. Police reportedly use tear gas, lathicharge demonstrators.
4.30 pm: “Modi had promised to deport all illegal immigrants after May 16, 2014,” Bhattacharya says. “He did not send back a single illegal Bangladeshi, instead he is now welcoming them.” He adds that the Assam Accord is a “national commitment” that was discussed in the Parliament before getting constitutional validity, PTI reports.
In 1985, Assamese nationalists had signed the Assam Accord with the Centre to end a six-year long anti-foreigner agitation. According to the Accord, only those Bangladeshi migrants who came to Assam before 1971 would be eligible for Indian citizenship.
4.28 pm: The Supreme Court has registered a petition filed by the All Assam Students Union challenging the amendments to the Citizenship Act. The group’s Chief Adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya attacked the BJP for “betraying” the people of Assam, reports PTI.
4.23 pm: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath accuses the Centre of practicing “politics of distractions”, reports PTI. “Every time there is an economic slowdown, a bill is introduced, a decision is taken to distract people,” he says.
On the question of whether his state would follow West Bengal, Punjab, and Kerala’s decision to not implement the amendments to the Citizenship Act, Nath says the Congress’ stand on any law that divides the society will also be the stance of the Madhya Pradesh government.
4.16 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announces mega rally in Kolkata against amendments made to the Citizenship Act.
3.53 pm: Police resort to lathicharge, use tear gas shells after protestors allegedly start pelting stones in front of Raj Bhavan in Shillong, reports EastMojo. Thousands of protestors are at the site.
The crowd marched from Motphran to Raj Bhavan and held a short public meeting there. Slogans were shouted against the governor, who has not yet signed the ordinance to amend the Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act, 2016. The ordinance makes it mandatory for visitors spending more than 24 hours in the state to register themselves on entry.
3.52 pm: Vehicles queue up amid fuel scarcity in Itanagar Capital Complex.
3.35 pm: Actor-turned-politician Jatin Bora on Thursday resigned from the Bharatiya Janata Party to protest against the amendments made to the Citizenship Act. He has also quit as the chairperson of the state-run Assam State Film Finance Development Corporation.
3.28 pm: Students of Jamia Millia Islamia University stage a protest in Delhi.
3.17 pm: Congress MP Jairam Ramesh moves the Supreme Court against the amendments to the Citizenship Act, which he says are a brazen attack on the core fundamental rights in the Constitution, Live Law reports.
3.08 pm: Thousands of protestors block NH-6 at Uluberia in West Bengal’s Howrah district, PTI reports.
2.39 pm: Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura General Secretary and Tripura minister Mewar Jamatia tells Scroll.in that his party is demanding statehood in the scheduled areas of the state. “We told the home minister if CAB is implemented, we are already a minority in our homeland – 30%, we will be down to 20%. We don’t mind CAB in Tripura, but we want our own state in the scheduled areas.”
Jamatia says he was not satisfied with the meeting with Amit Shah. “Temporarily, we have called off protests,” he says. “Now we will go back and hold a meeting with our committee to decide.”
2.10 pm: Ministry of External Affairs says that India and Japan have decided to defer Shinzo Abe’s visit to a mutually convenient date in the near future. A Japanese media report had earlier said that Abe was reconsidering his visit due to the protests in Guwahati.
2 pm: A bandh is called by an organisation called Amra Bangali in Gandacherra area in Tripura, a local journalist tells Scroll.in. The city of Agartala is relatively calm.
1.59 pm: Over 100 people arrested in Salem, Tamil Nadu, during protests, reports The Indian Express.
1.53 pm: Internet services in Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh district have been blocked since midnight till 5 pm due to planned protests against the amended Citizenship Act, PTI reports. Bahujan Samaj Party leader and city mayor Furqaan Ali wanted to hold a protest, but was denied permission.
Security arrangements have been made in view of the call given by Aligarh Muslim University teachers and students for a protest march inside the campus.
1.51 pm: National People’s Party leader Agatha K Sangma urges Prime Minister Narendra Modi to exempt the entire North East from the purview of the amended Citizenship Act to ensure that peace returns to the region, PTI reports.
“Efforts made through long hours of consultations are going futile and the narrative that is being given out is that the BJP-led government is anti-North East,” she writes in a letter.
1.41 pm: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal tells PTI: “Won’t tolerate any violence, strong action will be taken against those involved in vandalism.”
1.37 pm: West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee says that by passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Parliament and turning it into law, the Centre “can’t force us to abide by it”.
Apart from Banerjee, the chief ministers of Kerala and Punjab have also said they will not implement the amended citizenship law in their states.
1.27 pm: Kirit Pradyot Deb Barman, the head of the Tripura royal family, tells Scroll.in that he met Home Minister Amit Shah on Thursday night and “told him very categorically that I cannot compromise on this issue and I’ll take this matter to the Supreme Court”. “I said preferential treatment of some North Eastern states is not acceptable,” says Barman. “This is also a violation of trust of the Instrument of Accession. Tripura merged with the Indian Union under certain legal guarantees.”
1.18 pm: Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam youth wing leader Udhayanidhi Stalin is among several party workers detained after they try to stage a road blockade in Chennai to protest against the amended Citizenship Act, PTI reports. Udhayanidhi says the amendments are against minorities and Sri Lankan Tamils.
1 pm: The curfew imposed in Sadar and Lumdiengjri police station limits of Shillong is relaxed from 10 am and 10 pm, PTI reports. No untoward incident has been reported from the areas, say officials.
12.50 pm: Protestors plan to march to the Raj Bhavan in Shillong. The march has been organised by the Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisations, an umbrella body for various groups.
12.45 pm: Union minister Kiren Rijiju says: “Some elements may try to create violence but northeastern people are peace-loving. Protests are also taking place but there are ways and means of protesting. Some have tried to take advantage of the situation.”
11.47 am: Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure imposed in Kalaburagi city limits of Karnataka till 6 pm, ANI reports.
11.35 am: Congress and Indian Union Muslim League give adjournment motion notice in the Lok Sabha over the protests. Congress and Communist Party of India give suspension notice in the Rajya Sabha over the matter, ANI reports.
11.10 am: Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra moves the Supreme Court, challenging the validity of the amendments to the Citizenship Act. A bench headed by Chief Justice SA Bobde refuses early hearing and asks her lawyer to mention the matter before the mentioning officer, ANI reports.
11.05 am: Pictures from Guwahati from Thursday evening:
10.30 am: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Hitendra Nath Goswami, who is the Speaker in the Assam Assembly, says that doubts expressed over amendments to the Citizenship Act were not baseless. There is a strong possibility that the implementation of the law will “create division among different castes, communities and languages”, he says.
Read more: Assam Speaker, a BJP leader, says law will divide communities
10.29 am: Bharatiya Janata Party to hold public awareness and outreach programme in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Guwahati and Lucknow from December 14 to December 18 on amendments to the Citizenship Act, ANI reports.
10.25 am: The United States urges India to protect the rights of its religious minorities in keeping with its Constitution and democratic values, PTI reports.
“We are closely following developments regarding the Citizenship Amendment Bill,” a spokesperson for the State Department says. “Respect for religious freedom and equal treatment under the law are fundamental principles of our two democracies. The US urges India to protect the rights of its religious minorities in keeping with India’s Constitution and democratic values.”
The protests in the North East are for a different reason though – there is a widespread fear that populations defined as indigenous to the region will be culturally and physically overrun by migrants as a result of this law’s provisions. Elsewhere, the bill has been opposed due to its allegedly discriminatory view towards Muslims.
10.20 am: The Japanese government is considering cancelling Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to India on Sunday due to the ongoing protests against amendments to the Citizenship Act, local media outlet Jiji Press reports. Abe is scheduled to visit Guwahati for a summit with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi from December 15 to December 17.
10.05 am: Union Home Minister Amit Shah met delegations of the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura – the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ally in Tripura – and an outfit called Joint Movement Against CAB on Thursday night to discuss their concerns about the amended Citizenship Act as protests escalated in various parts of the North East.
9.22 am: All Assam Students’ Union chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya says the protests will continue. “We will not succumb to any pressure and our agitation will continue,” PTI quotes him as saying.
9.20 am: The Army and security forces conduct flag marches in Guwahati town, PTI reports. A large number of people, including artists, singers and actors, are observing a 10-hour fast called by All Assam Students’ Union in Guwahati. The fast began at 6 am.
8.25 am: Curfew has been relaxed from 8 am to 1 pm in Dibrugarh municipal area, reports PTI.
8 am: Last night, Debabrata Saikia, leader of the Opposition in the Assam Legislative Assembly, told ANI that he had requested the Speaker to call a special session to discuss the concerns of the state’s residents.
7.50 am: Mobile internet services were suspended for 48 hours across Meghalaya on Thursday night, ANI reports.
President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the amendments made to the Citizenship Act on Thursday night.