A first information report has been registered against 19 identified individuals, and over 200 unidentified ones, for continuing a protest in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, against the Citizenship Amendment Act without police protection, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. One of the organisers of the sit-in protest, 26-year-old Sarah Ahmed, is among those against whom an FIR has been filed.
The case was filed at the Khuldabad police station for violation of Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which prohibits the assembly of four or more people. However, despite the FIR against them, the protestors continued the sit-in on Thursday.
The sit-in began on January 11 and comprised mainly women protestors. However, subsequently several men also joined them. “When we reached Mansoor Ali Park on Sunday, there were 60-70 women and around 200 men raising slogans and holding placards against the new law,” the FIR reads. “The people there were told about Section 144 being in place. They were asked to disperse, but they did not listen.”
Khuladabad Police Station House Officer Roshan Lal said no arrests have yet been made. “There are 300-400 people still there,” Lal said.
Sarah Ahmed said the sit-in protest will continue indefinitely until the demonstrators’ demand is met – that the Citizenship Amendment Act be revoked. “We won’t be intimidated. It is our right to hold peaceful protests,” she said.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11 and notified on January 10, 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, leading to protests against it.
At least 19 people have died in Uttar Pradesh alone during clashes between the police and those protesting against the Act. The International Commission of Jurists published a briefing paper on Wednesday detailing the alleged atrocities of the police. There have been reports of the police denying medical aid to injured, some of whom were not even protestors and were simply caught up in the demonstrations. Video footage and first-hand accounts emerged of policemen entering and ransacking Muslim homes, looting cash, beating up women and the elderly, and breaking the windows of cars.
On Monday, the Uttar Pradesh government said it had identified 32,000 people in 21 districts who need Indian citizenship.