Protests against the new citizenship law reached overseas this week as the Indian diaspora, including students and teachers, organised demonstrations across major universities in various countries.
Protests were organised between Tuesday and Thursday in London, New York, Paris, Washington DC, Berlin, Geneva, The Hague, Barcelona, San Francisco, Tokyo, Amsterdam and Melbourne, a students’ group said. Many protestors demanded a repeal of the amendments and criticised the police action against students in India.
They condemned the “brutal use of state force” against students and peaceful protestors, and called the new law exclusionary and discriminatory. Protestors demanded “immediate cessation of use of force against dissenters” and restoration of telecommunications across all regions.
“The CAA, in conjunction with the eventual National Population Register and the NRC [National Register of Citizens], is threatening to undermine the principles of secularism and pluralism on which India is built upon,” the collective said.
Protestors read out the Preamble of the Constitution at several places. Some wrote to local Indian embassies or the local governments to mark their protest, the group said. At the United States’ Columbia University, about 100 students and faculty members tore up copies of the Citizenship Amendment Act. Over 150 students marched to the Indian consulate in Chicago, to condemn the “egregious behaviour” of the Indian government.
A statement by the group at Columbia University said they had gathered to “express their anger at the discriminatory and unconstitutional” amendments and to “show their solidarity with movements across India”. They also read out the Preamble.
The group said the new law “follows a long line of attacks by the NDA [National Democratic Alliance] government against minorities in India, especially Muslims and Dalits”. They also compared the situation to the Emergency, pointing out “the wonton trampling of fundamental rights, repression of student protests, a servile media, and courts abdicating their responsibility”.
The controversial amendments, which were passed by Parliament last week, relax citizenship conditions for people from six communities – but not Muslims – from three neighbouring countries.
Meanwhile, Russia on Thursday advised its citizens who are in India or planning to visit the country to be “vigilant, cautious, avoid crowds and refrain from visiting areas controlled by protestors”. Last week, the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Israel had issued travel advisories for India after protests in northeastern states.