- Sonia Gandhi, other opposition leaders today met President Kovind
- They expressed concern over the new citizenship law
- The delegation said the President has assured them of appropriate action
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi today met President Ram Nath Kovind at the head of an opposition delegation and asked that the Centre's new citizenship law - which has triggered countrywide protests - be withdrawn. The violence, otherwise, may spread further, they said, adding that the President has assured them of appropriate action.
Expressing anguish at the manner in which the police dealt with peaceful protests, Mrs Gandhi said, "The Modi government has no compassion when it comes to shutting down people's voices... We have an example in Delhi where Police entered the Jamia women hostel and dragged them out, it mercilessly beat students".
"The situation in the northeast, which is now spreading throughout country, including the capital because of the act, is a very serious situation... We fear that it may spread even further. We are anguished at the manner in which the police dealt with a peaceful demonstration." she added.
The opposition visit comes amid fresh protests -- at east Delhi's Seelampur -- where the crowd clashed with the police. The police used batons and tear gas to control the crowd, which stones at them and at passing buses. A peaceful protest is also in progress at Delhi's Jamia Millia Islamia, being held by the students.
On Sunday, a protest march by the Jamia students had gone out of hand and ended in violence. Stones were thrown at the police when they tried to stop the march, buses and two-wheelers were burnt. The subsequent police action at the university - barging in without permission and detaining students -- had triggered protests in campuses across the country.
In the evening, the opposition had demanded a judicial inquiry into the police action. The Congress had claimed that the Delhi Police was working under the orders of the BJP, pointing out that in Union Territories, the force is under the Centre's control.
The parties that met the media -- the Congress, the CPI, the CPM, Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal and Sharad Pawar's Nationalist Congress Party - had also said that they would meet the President today.
Three Chief Ministers -- Bangal's Mamata Banerjee, Kerala's Pinarayi Vijayan and Punjab's Amarinder Singh -- have declared that they would not allow the implementation of the citizenship law and the national registry of citizens in their states.
Yesterday, Bengal stopped work on the National Population Register, which was expected to lay the groundwork for rolling out a citizens' list in the future. The Centre has said the states have no choice in the implementation of the citizenship law.
The opposition contends that the citizenship law flies in the face of the Right to equality granted by the constitution and the country's fundamental principle of secularism.
On Wednesday, President Kovind had signed off on the new law, which would expedite citizenship for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who came to India before 2014.