Protesters clash with police during a rally. File
Resmi Sivaram / Agencies
The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to order stay on the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and postponed the hearing of around 60 petitions against it till Jan.22.
“Will have to see whether the Act has to be stayed,” the Bench of Chief Justice of India Justice SA Bobde, and BR Gavai and Surya Kant said.
The court also issued notice to the Centre and asked file response by second week of January.
The judges agreed with petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay that there is a lot of confusion on provisions of the new Act, which has ignited protests.
The petitioners’ counsel contended before the court that rules on the Act are yet to be framed.
Some of the lawyers said no question of a stay on the Act arises, as rules on it are yet to be framed.
Several political parties and members of civial society have moved the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the CAA.
These include senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, the Indian Union Muslim League, Asom Gana Parishad - an ally of the ruling BJP in Assam - and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi.
The Act seeks to provide the citizenship of India to the religiously persecuted minorities except for Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, who entered India before Dec.31, 2014 to become Indian citizens.
Meanwhile, fresh protests broke out across India on Wednesday as authorities banned large gatherings in parts of the capital in an effort to contain nationwide rallies and riots against the law.
The UN secretary-general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Tuesday the global body was “concerned about the violence and alleged use of excessive force by security forces that we’ve seen that have been taking place”.
“We very much call for restraint and urge full respect for the rights of freedom of opinion and expression and peaceful assembly,” he added.
In the financial capital Mumbai, hundreds of people under tight security carried placards with the words “India is ours” and chanted “we are all one”.
“We just cannot go along with this bill. I can’t believe we now have to prove our Citizenship after living in India for so many years,” Tabeer Rizvi told media as the Mumbai crowd burst into a Hindi version of the US civil rights movement anthem “We shall overcome.”
“I am not surprised to see people of all religions come out to protest this bill.”
Rallies were also held in other states including West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana.
There were sporadic clashes between police and demonstrators in some cities as well as small counter-protests.
In Uttar Pradesh, more than 110 people were arrested over the protests, or for posting on social media, police told reporters.
Hostels at the state’s Aligarh Muslim University, where police brutality was alleged by students on Sunday, were emptied after residents were told by the administration to start winter vacations early.
In Gujarat state, five people were arrested for drawing a Nazi symbol beside the Modi’s ruling BJP party’s lotus logo on the wall of the police headquarters in Vadodara city.
On the ground in Delhi, a day after the reports of violent protests in Seelampur, Delhi Police held a flag march in Mustafabad and Ghonda areas.
Earlier Section 144 was clamped to maintain the law and order situation in the national capital, and to bring peace in the area.
Drones are also being used to monitor the affected areas.
On the flag march, Joint Commissioner of Police Alok Kumar said. “We want to give a message that strict action will be taken against those who try to disrupt law and order in the area. Section 144 has been imposed. Situation is completely under control and peaceful.”
Police have stated that 21 people, including 12 policemen and six civilians, were injured in the clashes in Seelampur.
Demonstrators, mostly young people, again gathered outside Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university as the ban on gatherings of more than four people was imposed in some districts of the city.
“We are really very angry with the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) government... They have taken racism to the extreme point,” Taiba Hadis, 18, told AFP at the rally.
“They are questioning our existence and it is high time for us to speak up.”
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday targeted the opposition BJP in the national capital over insinuations that his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has not been doing enough to stop violence over the CAA.
“These violent protests are happening due to the upcoming elections (in Delhi). Those who fear losing are doing this. I want to appeal to the people of Delhi to maintain peace. The whole country knows who is capable of causing riots,” Kejriwal told reporters.
“The opposition is saying that the AAP is making these happen. Why would AAP do this? The opposition is spreading violence on purpose to win election. The AAP is not going to benefit from this. The opposition thinks they will benefit from this. But the people of Delhi are very smart,” he said.
One of the Shaheen Bagh grandmothers (Dadi), 82-year-old Bilkis who became the face of the Shaheen Bagh protests in India, has featured among Time Magazine's top 100 most influential personalities in the world.
#IndiaDoesNotSupportCAA has been the top Twitter trend since Monday night and was among the top four worldwide trends. It has been trending for most of Tuesday morning as the number one trend In India.
An interior ministry official said the government expected all state security officials to be on duty on Christmas Eve and through the holiday week.
The ministry stressed in a statement its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment.
Janneke Parrish, an Apple program manager, said the iPhone maker informed her that she had been terminated for deleting material on company equipment while she was under investigation.
The country's jab drive at a standstill and few restrictions in place as new COVID-19 cases also hit record high at 33,208, the Russian coronavirus task force said, bringing the official total case tally to 7,958,384.