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'They May be Firing Off Your Shoulders': Modi's Advice to Students Amid Arson in Delhi; Assam, Bengal Peaceful

The prime minister asked students to try and see whether they were not being made accomplices in a 'conspiracy' where 'urban naxals' and others were using their 'shoulders to fire' to serve their own interests.

News18.com

Updated:December 18, 2019, 8:04 AM IST
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'They May be Firing Off Your Shoulders': Modi's Advice to Students Amid Arson in Delhi; Assam, Bengal Peaceful
File image of PM Modi. (Image: PTI)

New Delhi/Kolkata/Guwahati/Bhognadih: Protests over the new citizenship law remained largely peaceful in Assam and West Bengal, even as incidents of violence were reported in Delhi's northeast area.

Amid the protests, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to assuage concerns of Indians apprehensive about getting stripped of their citizenship. "The Congress is spreading lies, creating an atmosphere of fear for Muslims over the new law. Citizenship (Amendment) Act neither takes away the rights of Indian citizens nor harms them in any manner," he said.

The prime minister asked students to try and see whether they were not being made accomplices in a "conspiracy" where "urban naxals" and others were using their "shoulders to fire" to serve their own interests.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah also reiterated that there was nothing "anti-minority" in the legislation, which provides Indian citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Situation in Assam, Bengal

The protests in the east and northeastern may have been peaceful but political posturing went on. A combative Mamata Banerjee, the West Bengal chief minister and TMC boss, dubbed arson and violence that rocked her state over the last few days as "minor incidents", and asserted the BJP-led Centre cannot "bully" states into submission and enforce the law.

Highways and railway tracks were blocked in some places in West Bengal causing inconvenience to people. Several trains got delayed, cancelled, and short-terminated because of the continued protests, officials said. However, no violence was reported from any part of the state.

A Guwahati report said flight operations and some railway services have resumed. Dibrugarh airport was also operating normally, officials said. "Trains, including some inter-city services, resumed as law and order situation has gradually improved in the state," Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) spokesperson Subhanan Chanda told PTI.

Situation in Delhi

Angry protesters demanding scrapping of the amended citizenship law torched several motor bikes, pelted stones at police personnel and damaged buses and a police booth in Northeast Delhi's Seelampur area on Tuesday afternoon.

Police resorted to baton charge and fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesters. Plumes of smoke billowed from at least two localities as the standoff continued for around one-and-a-half hours. They said two bikes of traffic cops were burnt by the demonstrators, adding a police booth in the area was vandalised and CCTV cameras installed there were taken away by the mob.

Fresh protests broke out against the amended citizenship law in Seelampur's Brijpuri area in the night with people pelting stones on police personnel.

Delhi police said that they have intensified patrolling in the city to maintain law and order. Meetings have been held with members of Aman Committee, Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs), Market Welfare Associations (MWAs), police mitras and respectable members of society to discuss the prevailing situation, police said.

"We have urged people to avoid rumours being circulated on various social media platforms and to maintain law and order and peace in the area," said Gaurav Sharma, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Outer North). Pickets have also been installed in sensitive areas to take action against hooligans, if any, he said.

In the wake of violent protests in Seelampur area, Lt Governor Anil Bajal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal appealed to Delhiites on Tuesday to maintain peace. "I appeal to all the citizens of Delhi to maintain peace. Violence of any kind cannot be tolerated in a civilised society. Nothing will be gained by violence. Put across your views peacefully," Kejriwal tweeted in Hindi.

In a statement issued by his office, Baijal said there is no space for violence in society and if citizens have any issue, they should put forward their views peacefully and through democratic means.

Situation in Uttar Pradesh

The issue rocked the state legislature as a united opposition held protests on the opening day of the winter session. They walked out after expressing dissatisfaction over Parliamentary Affairs Minister Suresh Khanna's response over the violence in the state including in Aligarh Muslim University and Lucknow.

Samajwadi Party and Congress members, carrying placards and shouting slogans, trooped into the Well of the House even as the BSP MLAs lent them support from their seats. Leader of the Opposition Ram Govind Chaudhary, who had given a notice for raising the protest against the CAA, pressed Speaker Hriday Narain Dixit to allow the matter immediately.

The Speaker, however, kept urging members to remove the placards and adjourned the House when they did not relent. Donning red caps, the SP members squatted on the floor even during the period when the House remained adjourned.

(With PTI inputs)

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