- Sonia Gandhi accuses government of showing disregard for people's voices
- This is unacceptable in a democracy, she says
- The statement comes amid protests against Citizenship Act
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in a televised message on Friday, accused the government of "brute repression" and showing "utter disregard" for people's voices in the nationwide protests against the citizenship law.
"The BJP government has chosen to use brute force to suppress dissent. This is unacceptable in a democracy," the Congress president said in the statement addressing "fellow citizens".
She said her party expressed deep anguish and concern over the brute repression unleashed by the BJP government against students, youth and citizens across the country. "In a democracy people have the right to raise their voice against wrong decisions and policies of the government and register their concern. Equally it is the duty of the government to listen to the citizen and address to their concerns," she said.
The statement comes amid protests across the nation against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the NRC (National Register of Citizens). There have been incidents of violence, stone-throwing and police firing on protesters in some cities.
"The Citizenship amendment Act is discriminatory and the proposed nationwide NRC will particularly hurt the poor and the vulnerable," said Mrs Gandhi.
"Like at the time of notebandi they will have to stand in line to prove their and their ancestors' citizenship. People's apprehensions are real and legitimate. The Congress party assures the people of India that it is fully committed to stand up and defend their fundamental right and uphold the foundational value of our constitution."
She said her party "stands in solidarity with students" and "assures people that we are fully committed to stand up and defend fundamental rights and to protect the values of our constitution."
The Congress has opposed both measures and one of its leaders has also challenged the citizenship law in court.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act for the first time makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principals of the constitution. There are also concerns that the combination of the CAA and the NRC will leave Muslims vulnerable to being declared illegal residents in India.