New Delhi: The Congress Parly will hold a mega protest on Sunday against the Centre’s new citizenship law, agitation against which is sweeping the country. The protest meet will be held at Rajghat, the memorial of Mahatma Gandhi.
Senior party leader and Lok Sabha MP Rahul Gandhi, who had been abroad since the protests over the new law escalated last Sunday, is expected to attend the meet.
More than 20 people have died in the protests against the new citizenship law since it was signed off by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind on December 11. Fifteen of the deaths have taken place in Uttar Pradesh, five in Assam and two in Mangaluru.
The protests had escalated last Sunday with a police crackdown on the students of Delhi’s prestigious Jamia Millia Islamia University after their protest march ended in violence. On Thursday, 13 cities across 10 states held protest marches, in some cases, defying police clampdown.
In Uttar Pradesh and parts of Delhi, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, people defied prohibitory orders to hit the streets. It led to violence in UP’s Lucknow and Karnataka’s Mangaluru, two people died in each place.
Another 13 people died in Uttar Pradesh yesterday, when protests were held across 13 districts.
In Delhi’s Old City, protests were held after the Friday prayers, during which Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad called for a march to Jantar Mantar. Responding to the call, hundreds of protestors took to the streets late in the evening, defying prohibitory orders. It triggered violence near Delhi Gate, when the police stopped the march.
Sources said at least 36 people, including eight policemen, were taken to the Lok Nayak Hospital with injuries. Forty people, including eight minors were detained and later in the evening, protesters gathered outside the Delhi Police headquarters to demand their release.
The Delhi Police, which came under fire for using excessive force, said they used neither batons not tear gas.
The BJP has accused the opposition parties, including the Congress, of engineering the protests. The government is planning a major outreach programme to spread awareness about the new law.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act makes religion the test of citizenship in India for the first time. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.