The police in Gujarat’s Vadodara city on Friday detained students and activists for protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.
Activist Anand Mazgaonkar told Scroll.in that he was detained along with 60 others at the police headquarters in the city’s Pratap Nagar area. “The idea was, because we were seeking permission regularly, so last time they had asked for four days’ notice,” said Mazgaonkar. On December 28, the protestors had applied for permission for demonstrations on January 2. However, it was denied at the last minute.
“So yesterday, at a press conference, we announced that whatever the consequences, 11 people would have tapes on their mouths,” said Mazgaonkar. “And whoever wanted to bear witness could hang around. But everyone was picked up and we were not allowed to protest.”
Mazgaonkar said most of those detained are students. He added that the scheduled protest was also against the “perpetual imposition” of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code in the city. The section, when applied, prohibits the assembly of more than four people.
Meanwhile, Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru saw large protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. One demonstration was held at the Eidgah-e-Jadeed mosque, ANI reported. Another protest was held at the city Town Hall, Bangalore Mirror reported.
“Hum Bharat Ke Log”, a collective of citizen groups in the city, had sought police permission to hold the Town Hall protest at 12 pm on Friday, The News Minute reported. However, the demonstration was postponed to 2 pm on the police’s request since Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in the city to inaugurate the Indian Science Congress. He was scheduled to leave Bengaluru at noon, and police personnel were deployed for his departure.
“We have been informed that the permission will now only be given from 2 pm to 4 pm, which is subsequent to Modi leaving,” an agitator told The News Minute. “This is a clear indication of the fear that the state has to face the dissent and resistance of its people.” The protestors also intended to honour social reformer Savitribai Phule on her birth anniversary.
Citizenship Amendment Act, NRC and NPR
The Citizenship Amendment Act triggered protests across India after Parliament approved it on December 11. The legislation provides Indian citizenship to people from six religious minority groups from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The law has attracted widespread criticism for excluding Muslims. Twenty-six people were killed in last month’s protests.
The protestors are also opposed to the National Register of Citizens, which is a proposed nationwide exercise to identify undocumented migrants. It was carried out in Assam last year. Its final list excluded 19 lakh people, or 6% of the state’s population. Meanwhile, the National Population Register, funds for which were approved by the Union Cabinet on December 24, is described on the Census of India website as “the first step towards the creation of a National Register of Citizens”.