Congress leaders led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra held a sit-in at the India Gate on Monday in a show of solidarity with the students from Jamia Millia Islamia and several other universities across the country protesting the contentious amended citizenship law. The Congress general secretary was joined by leaders like Ahmed Patel, A K Antony, Ghulam Nabi Azad, and Randeep Singh Surjewala, besides hundreds of party workers. Before sitting on the dharna at the India Gate lawns, Priyanka Gandhi cited Delhi Police action against Jamia university students to hit out at the PM Modi government, saying the atmosphere in the country has become "bad".
"The country's atmosphere is bad. Police are entering university to beat up (students). The government has tinkered with the Constitution. We will fight for the Constitution," she said. Congress spokesperson Surjewala said the two-hour protest, which began at 4 pm, is to express solidarity with students from Jamia Millia Islamia University and other places.
The national capital witnessed violent clashes on Sunday between the Jamia Millia University students and Delhi Police over the contentious Citizenship Act. Amid the protests, many students were injured, and buses were set ablaze. Reports of protests erupted from across the nation including--Moulana Azad National Urdu University in Hyderabad, Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) in Uttar Pradesh. Internet services have been snapped in six districts of Uttar Pradesh including --Aligarh, Meerut, Saharanpur, and Varanasi. Over concerns of marginalisation of minorities, protests were seen across the length and breadths of the country--from Delhi to Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Lucknow, and even Mumbai.
"The government has given a blow to the Constitution. It's an attack on the soul of the nation, youth is the soul of the nation. It's their right to protest. I'm a mother too. You entered into their library, dragged them out and thrashed them up. This is tyranny. Every person in Congress will fight against this tyranny and stand with the students," Priyanka Gandhi Vadra added.
Rahul Gandhi has called for a "non-violent Satyagraha" over the nation-wide protests and termed the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) as "weapons of mass polarisation" unleashed by fascists on India. Rahul Gandhi said he stands in solidarity with those protesting peacefully against them. "The CAB and NRC are weapons of mass polarisation unleashed by fascists on India. The best defence against these dirty weapons is peaceful, non-violent Satyagraha. I stand in solidarity with all those protesting peacefully against the CAB and NRC," Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter.
Thousands of students across India took to the streets demanding a probe into the use of teargas inside the Jamia library as well as police entering the campus without permission from university authorities on Sunday. Jamia turned into a battlefield on Sunday as police entered the campus after a protest against the amended citizenship law near the varsity turned violent.
Earlier, Opposition parties including Congress, CPI(M), Samajwadi Party (SP) and others condemned the alleged police "brutality" against students of Jamia and demanded a judicial inquiry into it. "How could the police enter Jamia and unleash such brutality on the students when the university authorities did not allow the police to enter it," Azad asked. At a press conference, Congress leaders Azad and Kapil Sibal, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI's D Raja, RJD's Manoj Jha, SP's Javed Ali Khan, and Sharad Yadav condemned Sunday's police action against Jamia students.
Azad also rejected the charges levelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the Congress was behind the violent protests. "It is wrong to make such accusations and we condemn it," he said. Yechury demanded a probe by a Supreme Court judge in the incident. "Whoever gave the permission to allow the police to enter the Jamia campus should be brought to book and punished," he said. He said it was not a Hindu-Muslim issue and asked people not to fall prey to rumours as the act was an affront to the Constitution.
"It is the ruling party and Government of India which are behind the violence. Had the government not brought in this law, there would not have been such violence. It is the prime minister, home minister and the Cabinet who are responsible for this violence" he alleged. Raja said that those who gave the orders for police entry in Jamia should be bought to book.