Actor-director Nandita Das on Thursday endorsed the series of protests against the amended Citizenship Act, joining the bandwagon of celebrities opposing the controversial law. “All these wonderful students and women, the many Shaheen Baghs springing up around the country, they are giving us a lot of courage to speak up,” Das said on the sidelines of the 13th edition of Jaipur Literary Fest.
She called the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens “very divisive”. Das added that the large-scale protests being held across the country offer a sense of solidarity. “It is important to come out sometimes on the streets not just to expand the protests but for your own conscience. Sometimes, we need these reminders and reaffirmations that we are not alone.”
Das said more and more people are speaking up because they do not want another partition to happen. “If Manto were alive today, he would have said have you learned nothing from the past,” she added.
The administration in Jharkhand imposed a curfew in Lohardaga town after violence and arson erupted at a rally in support of the amended Citizenship Act, organised by the BJP and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, The Times of India reported. Some people pelted stones at those participating in the rally. They also set houses and shops on fire.
Earlier on Thursday, actor Naseeruddin Shah made a controversial comment about Anupam Kher in connection with his support to the government. “Someone like Anupam Kher has been very vocal,” Shah told The Wire. “I don’t think he needs to be taken seriously. He is a clown. Any number of his contemporaries from NSD [National School of Drama] and FTII [Film and Television Institute of India] can testify to his sycophantic nature. It is in his blood. He can’t help it.”
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11 last year 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, which has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, triggered nationwide protests in December. At least 26 people died during demonstrations that month – all in the Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam. In the North East, people have protested against the law as they believe it threatens the region’s indigenous cultures.
Meanwhile, curfew was imposed in Jharkhand’s Lohardaga city on Friday, a day after violence erupted during a rally in support of the new citizenship law, reported ANI. Schools and colleges have been closed for two days, said Lohardaga District Collector Akanksha Ranjan.
Violence erupted on Thursday after a march was organised by members of Vishva Hindu Parishad in support of the citizenship law and NRC. Around 50 people have been injured in the violence. Stones were allegedly pelted at VHP members as the rally passing through Amlatoli Chowk area. A few two-wheelers were set on fire following the attack, said the police.
A group of protestors were briefly detained on Thursday night from Moghalpura area in Hyderabad for staging a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens. “The protesters had obtained permission from the police station and staged a protest,” said the police, according to ANI. “Immediately after this, an extra force was called in and a few protesters were taken into preventive custody. They were shifted to Goshamahal police grounds and Moghalpura police station to ensure that no untoward incident occurred. The protesters were later released.”
Here are some more visuals of the many protests continuing across the country:
Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh Police have been accused of baton-charging women and children at a ground in Varanasi during a protest against the new citizenship act, The Telegraph reported on Friday. One of the protestors told the newspaper that police also pelted them with stones.
“The police injured many women and children,” said Afreen Begum. “They were using the foulest of words while chasing us and beating us with lathis and rifle butts. There were policewomen, too, but only policemen were attacking us. Even Hindu women and children were there at the protest.”
Varanasi Senior Superintendent of Police Prabhakar Chaudhary, however, denied the allegations and said the police used mild force to disperse the crowd. District Magistrate Kaushal Raj Sharma said cases would be registered against the protestors. “We are trying to identify the protesters with the help of video footage and will take action against them,” he added.
Separately, the Kerala Police on Thursday filed a case against Bharatiya Janata Party MP Shobha Karandlaje for promoting religious enmity after she put up a post on social media alleging that Hindu families in Malappuram were not provided water because they supported the amendments to the Citizenship Act, News18 reported.
Supreme Court advocate and Malappuram resident Subhash Chandran KR complained to the police, based on which the police filed the case.
Karandlaje had tweeted on Wednesday alleging that Hindus of Kuttippuram panchayat in Malappuram were denied water supply because they supported the contentious citizenship law. “Kerala is taking baby steps to become another Kashmir,” she wrote in the tweet. “Will Lutyens telecast this intolerance of PEACEFULS frm [from] God’s Own Country!?”