Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday lashed out at the Narendra Modi government for amending the Citizenship Act of 1955, saying the new law was discriminatory and intends to divide Indians on religious lines.

She made the remarks at a meeting of the Congress Working Committee in New Delhi. The committee, which is the party’s highest decision-making body, passed a resolution demanding the rollback of the Citizenship Amendment Act, which was notified by the Home Ministry on January 10, and an end to the process of updating the National Population Register, The Indian Express reported.

The Congress chief said thousands of young men and women protesting against the law had understood the “grave harm” that its implementation would cause to India. She said the protest against the law in the face of severe cold and police brutalities shows the courage of the youth.

Gandhi accused the Centre of “digging in its heels” as the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act continue. “Not a day passes without the Home Minister [Amit Shah], and on some days the Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] himself, making provocative statements,” she added.

Gandhi said the law-and-order situation in some states was so alarming that they could be called “police states”. The Congress chief singled out Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, referring to the alleged brutalities the committed by the police have committed against protestors there. “We are appalled by the police excesses and use of brute force in many towns of UP, in Jamia Millia, in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Banaras Hindu University, Allahabad University, Delhi University, Gujarat University, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.”

Criticising the National Population Register, Gandhi termed it the National Register of Citizens “in disguise”. She said top leaders of her party should not be under the illusion that it was a benign exercise. “In form and content, NPR 2020 is a disguised NRC,” she added.

The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11 and signed into law by President Ram Nath Kovind on December 13, 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. At least 26 people died in last month’s protests against the citizenship law. Of these, 19 died in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Karnataka.

The Congress president asked the government to set up a high-powered commission to examine the incidents related to police violence.

CWC passes resolution on student protests

“We had a CWC meeting to discuss the current political scenario of our country,” Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal said at a press conference. “There was a detailed discussion about the agitation going on especially in colleges, led by students and the current economic situation of the country, unemployment and agrarian crisis.”

He added that the Congress Working Committee adopted a resolution on the student protests and alleged atrocities committed by the police. “Almost every institution in the country...have seen massive protests,” Venugopal said.

That is why, he alleged, a “designed conspiracy” had been unleashed to attack colleges and universities. A masked mob attacked students and teachers of the Jawaharlal Nehru University on January 5, injuring 34 of them.