Several leaders conveyed their New Year wishes on Wednesday morning, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind.
“Have a wonderful 2020!” Modi tweeted. “May this year be filled with joy and prosperity. May everyone be healthy and may everyone’s aspirations be fulfilled.”
President Ram Nath Kovind wished the new year brings joy, peace and prosperity to people. “The dawn of New Year and the new decade is an occasion to renew our commitment towards a stronger and more prosperous India,” the president tweeted. “May 2020 bring joy, peace and prosperity to our families, to our country, and to our beautiful planet!”
“Greetings and warm New Year wishes to everyone,” tweeted Defence minister Rajnath Singh. “May the year 2020 bring happiness, good health and well being for all of you.”
Union minister Smriti Irani urged people to work towards their goals. “Unravel the possibilities before you...Dream dreams and resolve to make them come true,” she tweeted.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “Happy New Year to each and every one of you. Have a wonderful year!”
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said the New Year should not be painful like 2019. “Due to the communal and narrow thought process of the BJP governments at the Centre and in the state, the Constitution was weakened in 2019,” she said in a statement, according to PTI. “The manner of protests should be as such that it should neither hurt feelings of people of any religion nor disturb the atmosphere of amity prevailing in the country.”
The former Uttar Pradesh chief minister added that people holding responsible positions should not forget that India is secular country, where people follow different religions. “They have their style of living and culture. We should give respect to the culture of religions,” Mayawati said.
Meanwhile, thousands of protestors against the Citizenship Amendment Act stood together in the bitter cold at midnight on Tuesday and ushered in the New Year with the national anthem at South Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh neighbourhood. The locality has been a protest venue for those opposing the amended citizenship law and the National Register of Citizens since December 15.
Demonstrators were seen waving the national flag and carrying posters that read “No CAA” “No NRC” “No NPR” and “We stand united against CAA, NPR”. Many chanted slogans of “Azaadi [freedom]”. At 12 am on Wednesday, the crowd broke into cheers as protestors wished each other and then began the national anthem, followed by “Inquilab” slogans.
The protest, mostly led by women, saw a few children who had tagged along with their mothers to the site. “I graduated from Jamia [Milia Islamia University] in 2014 in Political Science,” Sajida Khan, who brought her daughter along, said. “There is no discrimination at Jamia based on religion... For the first time such an incident has taken place and I am strongly against it.” Several working professionals were also seen at the protest.
Khan was referring to the alleged police action at the university after protests broke. On December 15, buses were set on fire after protestors engaged in a pitched battle with the police. Several students and policemen were injured. After the violent clashes, the police allegedly entered the campus and launched a crackdown. Later in the evening, the police detained around 100 students. They were released around 3.30 am the next day. Protests swept campuses across the country the following day against the brutal police crackdown at the Jamia campus.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.