Communist Party of India leader Kanhaiya Kumar and several others were detained on Thursday in Bettiah city in West Champaran district of Bihar, reported Republic. The Bihar Police swung into action just before Kumar was scheduled to begin a “Jan-Gana-Man yatra” against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens.
Speaking to reporters as the police took him away, Kumar said although the administration wants all Indians to show documentary proof of being citizens, the police would not show him the papers for his detention orders, reported News18. The protestors had gathered outside the Bhitiharwa Gandhi Ashram.
Kumar said the police had earlier granted permission for the protest march, but revoked it on Wednesday night. The month-long march was to start from Champaran on Thursday to coincide with Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary.
The former JNU student has held several protest rallies against the amended citizenship law. The former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union president had lashed out at the Centre over the arrests of prominent activists who organised protests. He had called the government a “coward and liar”.
Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act are continuing across the country, more than a month after it was passed in Parliament. The amendments, notified on January 10, provide 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. Twenty-six people died in last month’s protests against the law – all in the BJP-ruled states of Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, and Assam.
The government’s critics and some 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 nation-wide 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.