NEW DELHI—Thousands of Indians Sunday celebrated the Republic Day by holding protest demonstrations against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in cities and towns across the country.
The biggest and most significant event was held in the capital city New Delhi in Shaheen Bagh, where thousands of protestors, mostly women, gathered and hoisted the tri color besides collective reading of the preamble of Indian constitution. Shaheen Bagh, where women have been holding a sit in against the new law for over a month, has become the symbol of the current wave of protests and has inspired several other women led sit-ins across the country.
In Lucknow, capital of Uttar Pradesh, a flag hoisting ceremony was held at the clock-tower by women protesters who have been observing a sit-in against the CAA. The women here said that they are facing intimidation from the police to wind up the protests but said they are resolute and will continue their sit-in. At least 23 Muslim men have been shot dead in police crackdown against protests in Uttar Pradesh, ruled by Hindu hardliner Yogi Adityanath, since protests began in mid-December.
According to the CAA, illegal migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan can avail Indian citizenship but the law discriminates explicitly against Muslim and critics say the law is unconstitutional and goes against the fundamental of equality and secularism enshrined in the constitution. This is why the protest gatherings are marked by reading of constitution preamble.
In Kerala, a coastal state in South India, tens of thousands of people poured on the roads and formed a human chain as a form of protests. The protestors held out their arms and took pledge to defend the constitution. The chief Minister of the state whose government opposes the CAA said that protestors are up in defense of principles of the constitution. Several public gatherings were held in the state to mark the republic day.
In Kolkatta, a metropolitan city in India’s east also saw an 11 kilometer human chain by people to showcase their protests against the CAA.
Massive protest demonstrations were held in Mumbai as well where people gathered and read out the preamble of the constitution. The protestors vowed to continue their struggle in support of the constitution.
Similarly, students of Hyderabad University staged protests demonstration against the CAA. When a group of students tried to march towards Ambedkar’s statue, police swung into actions and arrested them. The police also arrested Dalit leader Chandrashekar Aazad who was in the city to attend a protest demonstration.
In Aligharh Muslim University, students tried to stop the vice chancellor while he was delivering the speech but the university security intervened and prevented the students from being able to stop the VC. From the university, Aligarh police arrested a student for raising slogans against the VC.
The protests demonstration went side by side with official functions which were marked by military parades and cultural events. The biggest ceremony was held in New Delhi.