A group of lawyers on Monday organised a march outside the Bombay High Court to support the Citizenship Amendment Act, PTI reported. The lawyers claimed the amended law was “constitutionally valid” and shouted slogans such as “We support CAA”, “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Vande Mataram”.
Nearly 100 lawyers, including senior counsels Ram Apte, Uday Warunjikar, Subhash Ghadge and Anjali Helekar, marched from one gate of the court to another.
“There is a presumption that every law is constitutionally valid and the CAA is not an exception,” Warunjikar told PTI. “Unless any Act is declared as invalid the law continues, and hence we took out a march in support of the CAA.”
On January 20, over 50 lawyers at the High Court had read out the Preamble to the Indian Constitution in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. They had said no one can divide the country and its citizens on the basis of religion.
Meanwhile, heavy police force was reportedly deployed near the barricades at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh locality. Pinjra Tod, a collective of women activists, said there was a chance of police crackdown on protestors.
Hundreds of women, along with children, have been protesting at Shaheen Bagh for almost a month and a half. The police’s attempts to persuade them to leave have failed.
“Heavy police force is deployed near barricades in Shaheen Bagh,” Pinjra Tod tweeted. “Chances of crack down is there. They are arguing with the protesters. Women have surrounded the area around barricades to not let police enter. It is an appeal to all of you to reach Shaheen Bagh right now.”
The Citizenship Amendment Act 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. Twenty-six people died in last month’s protests against the law – all in the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Assam.
Protestors fear that the amended law and the National Register of Citizens will be misused to target Muslims since the Citizenship Act now has religion as a criterion. There are now fears that a nationwide National Register of Citizens will be imposed. The Assam NRC had left out around 6% of the state’s population. Work has also begun on the National Population Register, which is the first step to creating an all-Indian NRC identifying undocumented migrants residing in India.
The protests against the amended law, which began last month, gathered fresh momentum as India celebrated Republic Day.
More than 100 women and men began an indefinite sit-in on a street in a residential area of Mumbai Central on Sunday night, demanding that the government repeal the Citizenship Amendment Act. Several more protesters joined the group on Monday morning and their numbers are expected to rise during the day.
Titled “Mumbai Bagh”, the protest was inspired by Shaheen Bagh.
“It was not a mere human chain, but a human wall against the violation of the principles of the Constitution,” Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, addressing a public meeting in the state capital of Thiruvananthapuram.
In Assam, Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma was shown black flags by protestors at different locations. He was on his way to attend Republic Day programmes, PTI reported.
The protestors were, however, overpowered by police and taken into custody.
At the Jaipur Literature Festival, protestors were detained by security personnel as they shouted slogans against the Citizenship Act and National Register of Citizens.
Meanwhile, a coalition of diaspora organisations marked India’s Republic Day in the United States by protests in 30 cities.
“The brutal crackdown by government in India on anti-CAA and anti-NRC protests has created a situation in which women in large numbers have come out on streets to challenge the divisive-communal-fascist agenda of the government,” Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey said at a gathering in Washington DC. “It gives hope that democracy and Constitution can ultimately be saved by the common people from a government which is bent upon destroying them.”