The Lucknow Police have been accused of taking away blankets and food meant for protestors at Lucknow’s iconic clock tower since Friday evening. About 50 women began their indefinite sit-in on Friday. By Saturday night, the crowd swelled as scores of women and children joined the demonstration.
The police dismissed the accusations as “rumours” but added that “blankets were seized after due process”, reported NDTV. “At the clock tower in Lucknow, during an illegal protest, some people tried to pitch a tent and they were denied permission,” the police statement read. “Some groups were distributing blankets in the park and many people, who were not a even part of the protest, came to take the blankets. We had to disperse the crowd there. The blankets were seized after due process. Please don’t spread rumours.”
The police also allegedly switched off the street lights where women had gathered to protest against the citizenship law. Lawyer and president of Rihai Manch, Mohammad Shoaib, who was granted bail on January 15, went to the protest site after he walked out from jail. He was put under house arrest in Lucknow on December 19 during protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The next day, he was detained at an unidentified location.
Prohibitory orders were imposed in Lucknow on Saturday night. Police Commissioner Sujeet Pandey said that it was done to maintain law and order in the coming weeks, reported IANS.
Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act are continuing across the country, more than a month after it was passed in Parliament. On Saturday, massive protests were held in places such as Pune, Lucknow, Delhi, Goa and Vijayawada.
On Friday, students, professors and scholars of Stanford University, numbering between 150 and 200, gathered on campus to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, as well as the police crackdown on demonstrators in different parts of India, said a press release. The rally was named #StanfordforIndianStudents, and featured a reading of an English translation of Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s poem Hum dekhenge, as well as slogans such as “Awaaz Do, Hum Ek Hai”.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, 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. At least 26 people died in protests against the legislation last month.
The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims. In Northeastern states, demonstrators feel the Act will erode their ethnic identities by granting citizenship to foreigners on religious grounds. Over the last year, the government has repeatedly claimed that the new citizenship law would be the precursor to a countrywide National Register of Citizens, intended to identify so-called illegal immigrants and deport them. Taken together, it is feared, the law and the register will work towards excluding Indian Muslims from citizenship.
Chief Justice of India SA Bobde on Saturday said that universities in the country were not supposed to operate like an assembly line in a production facility. He said that certain institutes had become excessively “commercially-minded” and that they should not be about “brick and mortar only”. His comments came after nationwide student-led protests were seen last month against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Violence broke out after a protest march by students of Jamia Millia Islamia ended in a pitched battle with the Delhi Police. Buses were set on fire, and several students and police officers were injured. The police were accused of using excessive force and even assaulting students.
Of the many protests that spread across the country, Shaheen Bagh stood out. It has been organised mainly by women from the neighbourhood, most of whom are Muslim and visibly so. The Delhi Police that cracked down violently on demonstrations elsewhere was confounded by a legion of women in headscarves, quietly sitting through the night in protest. The idea of Shaheen Bagh has spread to other parts of the country. In Kolkata’s Park Circus, also a Muslim-majority area, many women were new to protest. While some were doctors, lawyers and teachers, familiar with professional worlds, others were entering the public sphere for the first time.
Here are some visuals from across the country:
Activist Sadaf Jafar spoke extensively on her time in police custody.
With Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh having become the ground zero of protests against the Citizenship Act in the capital, several artworks and installations are beginning to appear on the site. From postcards and elaborate posters to a mock detention camp, and a mini replica of India Gate inscribed with the names of those who have died nationwide during the protests, dissent is seeing diverse expressions.
The videos and images above and below show a 40-foot-tall map of India that has been installed as of January 17, before and after its erection at the venue. The iron and mesh wire piece is inscribed with the words “Hum bharat ke log CAA-NPR-NRC nahi maante (We, the people of India, reject the CAA-NPR-NRC)”.