Three criminal cases have been filed against protestors at an indefinite sit-in against the Citizenship Amendment Act at Lucknow’s iconic clock tower, NDTV reported on Tuesday. They have been accused of rioting and unlawful assembly.
In the police complaints, more than 135 unidentified protesters have also been accused of “disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant”, “assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty”, reported The Hindu. Among the dozen people named by the Lucknow Police include Sumaiya Rana and Fauzia Rana – the two daughters of renowned Urdu poet and Sahitya Akademi Award winner Munnawar Rana.
The first information reports have been lodged at Thakurganj police station. The station house officer said no arrests have been made yet.
The complaints have been lodged on the basis of a complaint by a woman constable who had alleged that she was heckled by protestors. The police also said the protest was held without permission and it violated the prohibitory orders imposed under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. There have been no reported incidents of vandalism at the clock tower protest site.
Sumaiya Rana condemned the police action. “There has not been any violence at the protest,” she told The Hindu. “Only women and children are protesting. We are sitting, singing patriotic songs. Slogans of ‘inquilab zindabad’ and ‘azadi’ from casteism, Manuvad and fascism are being raised. What crime did we commit?” Rana said the protestors were only exercising their constitutional right. “What can we say, whatever is legal, we will face it,” she added.
About 50 women began an indefinite sit-in at the site on Friday. By Saturday night, the crowd swelled as scores of women and children joined the demonstration.
The Lucknow Police have been accused of taking away blankets and food meant for protestors at the iconic clock tower since Friday evening. They also allegedly switched off the nearby street lights. However, the police dismissed the accusations as “rumours” but admitted that “blankets were seized after due process”.
“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 had 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 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.