Citizenship Act Protesters In Delhi Accuse Police Of Pulling Down Tents

Over a thousand protesters, including women and children, have gathered in the East Delhi neighbourhood where protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and a possible pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) had started on Monday.

Citizenship Act Protesters In Delhi Accuse Police Of Pulling Down Tents

The tent was erected again by protesters and by 11 am, scores of people gathered at the venue

New Delhi:

Demonstrators protesting the amended citizenship law at East Delhi's Khureji on Wednesday claimed that police personnel tried to forcefully disperse them by barging into their protest site at around 2 am, cutting the power connection and knocking down their tents.

The Delhi police, however, has refuted the claims saying no such "coercive action" was taken.

Over a thousand protesters, including women and children, have gathered in the East Delhi neighbourhood where protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and a possible pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) had started on Monday.

"By 2 am, around three dozen protestors, including some 15 women, were at the venue when policemen barged in and cut power supply for the lights, leaving the area in darkness," a local resident, who claimed to have been present at the site, told news agency PTI.

"They then brought down the poles supporting the tarpaulins that were put up for shelter in front of the stage," said the man, in his 50s, who wanted to protect his identity for security reasons.

He said nobody was injured in the alleged police action. "They (cops) just came and did what they had in mind. But the word spread among locals immediately and soon hundreds of people gathered at the site, which led the policemen to leave," he claimed.

The tent was erected again by protesters and by 11 am, scores of people gathered at the venue where women were leading the charge, chanting slogans like "Aazaadi" and "Aawaaz do hum ek hain".

Zafar Ahsan Karimi, who runs a school for the poor in Khureji, described the police action as "unjust".

"There were over a dozen women at the protest site and they (cops) barged in with a motive of vandalism at 2 in the morning. There were no female police personnel either. Is this constitutional?" he said.

On the issue of CAA and NRC, he said, "The government should not be asking for our papers to check whether we are Indians. They should get our DNA test done and will find out even about our 10 generations who belonged to this country."

Joint Commissioner of Police, Delhi East, Alok Kumar told news agency PTI, "No such coercive action was taken at the protest site. Had police wanted to clear the protesters, it would have been done. But the protesters are still there."

The officer said once in a while the policemen do talk to the protesters to take stock of the situation.

"There has been no law and order situation so far because the protest is happening on a side. The traffic movement is also normal," Mr Kumar said.

The protest in the East Delhi neighbourhood unfolded on Monday, as anti-CAA and anti-NRC demonstrations continued in Shaheen Bagh, Jamia Millia Islamia and Zakir Nagar in the South East region of the national capital.

Besides Delhi, protests have unfolded in many parts of the country over the contentious law since it was passed on December 11. There have also been violent clashes during protests at a number of places including Uttar Pradesh, where nearly 20 people have died.

According to the amended law, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 after facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but will be given Indian citizenship.

Those opposing the law contend that it discriminates on the basis of religion and violates the Constitution especially due to non-inclusion of Muslim refugees. They also allege that the CAA along with the NRC is intended to target the Muslim community in India.

However, the central government has dismissed the allegations, maintaining that the law is intended to give citizenship to persecuted people from the three neighbouring countries and not to take away citizenship from anyone.

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