New Delhi: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor joined the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Jamia Millia Islamia university and the neighbouring Shaheen Bagh area in Delhi to express his solidarity with the students and protesters on Sunday. Later he visited the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) as well.
“You are an inspiration to every democrat in the country. We stand with you, we stand with the courage you have shown. We stand with spirit and the faith you have in the Indian constitution. This is a fight for everybody,” the Congress MP said at Jamia.
“The party stands with the students and is against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens,” he said. Mr Tharoor was accompanied by Delhi Congress President Subhash Chopra and ex-Seelampur MLA Mateen Ahmed.
Later, Mr Tharoor tweeted, “It was fabulous to see the courage, passion & determination of the women of Shaheen Bagh. Including the nonagenarian ‘dadis’ who have held a fast since the start. Addressed them all with great admiration.”
He took a metro train to visit JNU and stand with students who were attacked by a masked mob last Sunday.
Message to JNU students awaiting me: Decided to give up battling the traffic near ShaheenBagh & have taken the metro instead to get to you. Will still be late, but not as late as if I’d stuck to four wheels! See you all soon! Looking forward to our interaction.
At JNU, Mr Tharoor condemned the mob attack in which masked goons carrying iron rods and sledgehammers barged into the campus and went on an unchecked three-hour rampage that left students and teachers injured.
Mr Tharoor also spoke about the Citizenship Act, saying that it is the first time that religious test has been introduced into the definition of Indian citizenship. “Never before in our country has it mattered what your religion was to qualify to be an Indian citizen. The fact that this government doesn’t understand that is the biggest shame of all,” he was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.
For nearly a month now, protests have raged at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, gaining nationwide attention as demonstrations erupted across India over the Citizenship Amendment Act which critics say is anti-Muslim.
More than 200 women have sat and slept across a four-lane road that connects Delhi and Noida while hundreds others have joined every day, in protest against the controversial law which gives Hindus, Buddhists, Sikh and other minorities who have fled neighbouring countries the right to Indian citizenship – but excludes Muslims.
The Shaheen Bagh women took over the road after a brutal police crackdown on a demonstration last month by students at the nearby Jamia Millia Islamia university against the citizenship law which makes religion a criteria for citizenship for the first time in in India.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP have insisted the law is “humanitarian” and that Muslims have nothing to worry about, but opponents are not convinced and have held rallies across the nation — often met with police force.
(With inputs from PTI)