United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has expressed concern about police violence faced by students in New Delhi and Uttar Pradesh protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act, PTI reported on Wednesday.
“We are concerned about the violence and alleged use of excessive force by security forces that we’ve seen that have been taking place in the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act,” Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York, WION reported. “We very much call for restraint and urge full respect for the rights of freedom of opinion and expression and peaceful assembly.”
Dujarric referred to the remarks of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, when asked about the amended law that grants citizenship to six persecuted religious communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan but excludes Muslims.
Last week, Bachelet’s spokesperson Jeremy Laurence had said the law “would appear to undermine the commitment to equality before the law enshrined in India’s Constitution” and the country’s international commitments, IANS reported. “Although India’s broader naturalisation laws remain in place, these amendments will have a discriminatory effect on people’s access to nationality,” Laurence added.
Violence broke out at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi on Sunday evening during a protest march by students against the citizenship law. Buses were set on fire, and several students and police officers were injured. After the violence, the police entered the campus without permission and cracked down on students. Later in the evening, around 100 students were detained. They were let go at 3.30 am on Monday. The violence at Jamia sparked protests at Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh. The students there were also beaten by the police. By the following day, close to 40 college campuses joined the protests and expressed solidarity with those resisting the citizenship law.
On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court agreed to hear a plea to set up a fact-finding committee to conduct inquiries into the police action at Jamia Millia. The court will hear the petition on Thursday.