Delhi's anti-CAA protesters feel struggle against 'discriminatory policy' failed

Delhi's anti-CAA protesters feel struggle against 'discriminatory policy' failed

New Delhi | People who had participated in the months-long anti-CAA protests in Delhi opposed the Centre's notification on Monday to implement the law and said they feel their struggle has failed.

The Centre on Monday announced the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, paving the way for granting citizenship to undocumented non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

The rules were notified days ahead of the expected announcement of the Lok Sabha elections. With this, the Narendra Modi government will now start granting Indian nationality to persecuted non-Muslim migrants -- Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians -- from the three countries.

Jamia Millia Islamia and Shaheen Bagh were epicentres of the anti-CAA protests in 2019-2020. The bill was passed in Parliament on December 11, 2019, leading to protests across the country, including Delhi.

During the protests, police had barged into the Jamia campus in pursuit of some alleged miscreants who had set buses on fire. The police personnel were accused of attacking students in the university library on December 15, 2019.

Several students were injured in the violence.

Around the same time, people gathered on the Kalindi Kunj stretch that links Shaheen Bagh to Noida. On December 31, as the clock struck 12 midnight, the protesters rang in the New Year by singing the national anthem and raising "Inquilab Zindabad" slogans.

Nearly four years since, people associated with those protests expressed dissatisfaction over the rules being notified.

"With CAA coming into force, our struggle against the discriminatory policy for over 100 days in tough weather conditions seems to have failed. So many people lost their lives and yet the government has decided to implement it. We feel helpless and frustrated. This is a political move to garner more votes in the Lok Sabha elections," Samaira Khan, a participant in the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh, said.

Banojyotsana Lahiri, the partner of Umar Khalid -- arrested in an Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case related to the alleged conspiracy behind the Delhi riots of February 2020 -- told PTI, "When CAA was announced, we were opposed to it since it was diluting the Constitution in letter and spirit. We are still opposed to it. The act has been challenged in the Supreme Court. We will pursue a legal-political battle against it."

The Jamia Millia Islamia administration has beefed up security on and outside the campus to avoid any untoward incident.

"We have tightened security arrangements to avoid any kind of agitation on campus. No protest against the CAA will be allowed by students or outsiders near the campus. The situation is completely under control," Jamia Millia Islamia Acting Vice-Chancellor Eqbal Hussain told PTI.

At Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), a code of conduct for the students' union polls has been put in place in the run-up to the March 22 elections.

"Our university is currently under a code of conduct due to the upcoming JNUSU (Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union) polls. So there is no possibility of a protest on campus as students themselves have issued the code of conduct. I do not believe my student or faculty member will engage in any agitation. Everyone is busy preparing for the polls, which will take place after four years," JNU Vice-Chancellor Santishree D Pandit told PTI.

The CAA was passed in December 2019 and subsequently got the president's assent but there were protests in several parts of the country against it. Many opposition parties spoke out against the law, calling it "discriminatory".

The law could not come into effect as the rules had not been notified till now.

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