Through Locked Gates, Kamal Haasan Addresses Students Protesting Citizenship Act

The students of Madras University have been holding protest for three days - since Sunday's police crackdown on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia and the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University.

Kamal Haasan had earlier expressed support for the students' protest

Chennai:

Actor-politician Kamal Haasan today visited the University of Madras where students have been conducting protests for the last two days against the centre's new citizenship law. Recovering from a surgery, Kamal Haasan, holding a walker, had to speak to students through closed gates as police personnel wouldn't let him inside citing the University is on holiday. 

The 65 year-old had earlier expressed support for the students' protest. His party, the Makkal Needhi Maiam, is one of the 59 petitioners who have approached the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the law that was passed last week.

"Our students have been made refugees here. This is beyond party... this is our responsibility," he said. Since the University had declared holiday yesterday, around 800 hostlers at the University's Taramani campus say they are without food as the mess has been closed.

The students of Madras University have been holding protest for three days - since Sunday's police crackdown on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia and the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University - action which Mr Haasan has described as "a blow on the freedom of expression".

"It is a blow made out of fear of getting caught with no answer," he said, indicating the BJP government at the centre and Uttar Pradesh. The opposition parties, including the Congress, have indicated that the Delhi Police, who report to the Union Home Ministry, were working under the orders of the BJP.
The protests against the new citizenship law, he said, were "beyond state borders, beyond politics and beyond parties... It is a national issue".

Yesterday, the Chennai Police had detained two students, saying they had "instigated protests, tried to bring in outsiders and roughed up the police". The university, they said, had requested for police help.

The students say they are opposing the citizenship law for its "exclusionary stance" - facilitating citizenship for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have settled in India by 2014.

The law, they maintain, discriminates on basis of religion and nationality. They were also concerned about the Tamil refugees who came from Sri Lanka. The law excludes them from becoming Indian citizens though they have been here for more than three decades.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Mr Haasan had said, "There is nothing wrong with young people being politically aware and asking questions (but) when these questions (are) stifled, then democracy is in dangerous ICU," Kamal Haasan said. The young, he said, must "understand and question politics".



(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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