Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury on Tuesday said Opposition leaders met President Ram Nath Kovind and urged him to direct the government to set up an inquiry panel to investigate police violence in Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi.
The Opposition delegation submitted a letter demanding that the Citizenship Amendment Act be repealed immediately.
The delegation of 17 leaders was led by Congress President Sonia Gandhi. Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader TR Baalu, Yechury, Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’Brien and Manoj Kumar Jha of the Rashtriya Janata Dal were among those who signed the letter.
Following the meeting, Gandhi alleged that the Narendra Modi government “has no compassion”, NDTV reported. “The Modi government has no compassion when it comes to shutting down people’s voices,” she said. “We have an example in Delhi where police entered the Jamia women hostel and dragged them out, it mercilessly beat students.”
She said the crisis was now spreading throughout country, including the Capital because of the Act. “We fear that it may spread even further,” the Congress leader told reporters. “We are anguished at the manner in which the police dealt with a peaceful demonstration.”
O’Brien also said the delegation requested Kovind to advise the government to withdraw the legislation.
The Opposition leaders’ meeting with the president came hours after protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act turned violent in Delhi’s Seelampur area. Demonstrators pelted stones at police personnel, and allegedly damaged public buses and burnt vehicles. The police fired tear gas in retaliation.
The amended Citizenship Act, which was approved by Parliament last week, has triggered nationwide protests, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and West Bengal. Students have also joined the protests that initially started in the North East last week. The demonstrations in the North East continued on Tuesday, including Assam, where internet services were restarted in the morning.
Meanwhile, in an election rally in Jharkhand earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked students to debate and protest against government policies they disagree with, but asked them to be wary of “urban Naxals” exploiting them for political expediency.