31 Held in UP, 140 in Delhi: Oppn's Mega Satyagraha Against CAA as State Govts Crack Down on 'Vandals'
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during a 'satyagraha' demanding protection for the Constitution in the view of CAA and NRC, at Mahatma Gandhi's samadhi Rajghat in New Delhi on Monday (PTI)
New Delhi: Led by top party leaders, the Congress on Monday sat on a five-hour 'Satyagraha for Unity' to express solidarity with youths agitating against the new Citizenship law, as state government cracked down on 'outsiders' inciting violence during protests.
Sonia Gandhi and other opposition leaders read the Preamble to the Constitution as they vowed to protect it. In his brief concluding address, party leader Rahul Gandhi accused the prime minister of trying to spread hatred and to break the country, but warned that the people will not let him attack the Constitution and suppress the "voice of Bharat Mata".
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, A K Antony, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Anand Sharma, Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath were among the senior Congress leaders who were part of the demonstration demanding protection of the rights of people as enshrined in the Constitution.
The Congress' protest came a day after the prime minister said at a rally here that his government has not yet held any deliberation on a pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC), comments seen as a departure from Home Minister Amit Shah's assertion in Parliament on rolling it out.
Meanwhile, in the national capital, protests were held outside the Uttar Pradesh Bhawan, Rajghat, India Gate, Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), Assam Bhawan and Delhi University where people voiced their opposition to the controversial changes introduced in the law.
As many as 46 students, who were demanding the resignation of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath over the issue, were detained and taken to Mandir Marg police station. Former JNU Students' Union president N Sai Balaji and All India Students' Association (AISA) Delhi unit president Kawalpreet Kaur were among those detained the moment they reached the spot.
The protest at the Jamia Millia Islamia entered its eight day on Monday, with hundreds continuing to throng the streets outside the university. Students from several schools in Noornagar, Batla House and Okhla also attended the protests on Monday.
Around 140 people were detained by evening as the Delhi Police stepped up vigil to prevent any violent protest in the city. "We have stepped our vigil to maintain law and order situation in the national capital ahead of Christmas and New Year celebrations. Heavy police deployment will remain in place in sensitive areas identified by the police," a police officer said.
In Uttar Pradesh, police arrested 31 people, including the state head of Popular Front of India (PFI) and 16 other workers of the Islamist outfit, in connection with the violence in the state capital. An official said 33 FIRs have been filed in the state capital and 150 people arrested so far.
The police also claimed that more than 700 cartridges were seized during the protests in the state and maintained that they did not use any of them. "Law and order is under control and the situation is normal in UP. 213 FIRs have been filed, 925 persons have been arrested so far (since Dec 10) in connection with anti-CAA protests in the state," an official statement issued by the police said. As many as 288 policemen have suffered injuries, of which 62 have been caused from firearms.
Later in a statement, they said 81 cases have been registered and 120 people arrested so far for posting objectionable remarks and content on social media. Action has been taken against 16,761 social media posts.
Meanwhile, a video has gone viral in which a sub-inspector is purportedly seen loading his pistol as gunshots apparently ring out. The 90-second video shows a Khakhi-clad policeman with a chest guard and helmet loading his pistol during a protest against the amended law. The video appeared to be from Yateemkhana area in Kanpur.
Senior police officials, including IG Mohit Agarwal, have claimed that police did not open fire to control the protesters. The police blamed "outsiders" associated with Islamist outfits like PFI and SIMI for the violence in which 17 people died in the state during protests against the new law.
In Assam, the state government admitted that they did not have intelligence inputs about the large-scale violence that occurred during protests against the amended Citizenship Act and said it is monitoring social networking sites to find out posts spreading hate messages.
The administration has detected at least 206 posts related to law and order issues such as fake news items since December 9, Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said at a press conference. "No Assam Police official thought that anyone would ever try to burn the Secretariat. We never thought that leaders of the opposition parties will be doing Facebook live after burning a stage on the road," he said in reply to a question regarding intelligence failure.
"We never had such information. If you say that was a failure, then yes, we failed to assess that," Sarma said. The senior BJP leader last week alleged that there may be a "deadly nexus" among a section of Congress workers, "urban Naxals" and Islamic outfit PFI that tried to burn down the state secretariat during December 11 protests and the NIA has been asked to probe the matter.