Citizenship Bill row in India

AI Nepal urges India to order its security forces to exercise restraint

Published On: December 20, 2019 08:29 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Dec 20: Expressing serious concern over police crackdown on peaceful protesters across India, Amnesty International (AI) Nepal has urged the Indian government to prevent the tensed situation from escalating further. 

The rights body has asked India and state governments to respect their citizens’ right to dissent and to order security forces to exercise restraint in order to prevent the situation from escalating and putting to risk the lives of individuals who are merely exercising their freedom.

Earlier this week, police severely beat up and arrested students peacefully protesting at Jamia Millia Islamia Unversity in the capital, Delhi, and at least another university in Aligarh, according to multiple news reports.

“Right to peaceful protest and freedom of opinion, expression and assembly is a cornerstone of democracy and a right enshrined in the Indian Constitution,” Nirajan Thapaliya, director of AI Nepal, said.  “It is very disheartening to see the way the Indian authorities are ruthlessly cracking down on protesters exercising their right to dissent.”

Protests erupted across the country after the Indian Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, popularly known as CAB on 11 December.  The amendment enables irregular migrants to acquire Indian citizenship through naturalization and registration. However, it restricts the eligibility to only Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India on or before 31 December 2014.

“We also call upon the government of India to conduct investigations into the police conduct including allegations of brutal beatings and sexual harassment of students at Jamia Millia Islamia University, and to prosecute those involved,” said Thapaliya. “Student protestors at Aligarh Muslim University were also allegedly beaten up with the media reporting that more than 100 students were injured, and the police blocked ambulances from going inside the university to help the wounded students.”

In the wake of widespread demonstrations against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, Indian authorities have shutdown Internet in several parts of the country and invoked Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which prohibits assembly of more than four people in one area. Prohibitory orders have also been imposed in various Indian cities. 

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