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Indian State Chief Equates Police Crackdown on Students to Jallianwala Bagh under British Regime

© REUTERS / ADNAN ABIDIDemonstrators burn an effigy depicting Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a protest against a new citizenship law, outside Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, India, December 16, 2019.
Demonstrators burn an effigy depicting Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a protest against a new citizenship law, outside Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, India, December 16, 2019.  - Sputnik International
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New Delhi (Sputnik): Indian police came under the scanner for using excessive force on students at a premier university in the national capital during an anti-Citizenship Law agitation on Sunday. Vice-Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia Najma Akhtar later said police had beaten up many innocent students who were sitting or studying in the library.

The excessive actions of police against students left 100 of them injured, while 35 policemen were also hurt. The incident had a cascading effect, with students at several premier universities across India hitting the streets in solidarity with their counterparts of Jamia Millia University since Sunday 15 December.

Chief Minister of India's western Maharashtra, Uddhav Thakeray said the incident reminded him of the massacre of innocents holed up in Jallianwala Bagh in northern Punjab, where more than 1500 innocents fell to British troops' bullets on the orders of Brigadier-General Dyer in 1913.

Thackeray's regional nationalist Shiv Sena was a long-term ally of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party until they parted ways in November over differences on power-sharing in the state, after a fractured verdict in elections to the state legislature.

"There is a situation across the country where the manner in which the police entered the campus in Delhi and students were fired on; I was reminded of the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy. Are we creating a Jallianwala Bagh-like situation in this country, by trying to scare students," Thackeray questioned his formal ally for his controversial legislation to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants from three neighbouring Islamic countries.

"Students are like a 'youth bomb'. So we request the central government not to do, what they are doing, with students," he implored the federal government.

The amended Citizenship Act grants Indian nationality to Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Parsis who faced persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and migrated to India before 2015.

The law, however, contentiously does not grant citizenship to Muslims arriving from these three neighbouring countries – something which protesters and several opposition parties in the country say violates the Indian Constitution

Since the passage of the law, protests spread to universities across India – from northeastern Guwahati to western Mumbai and northern Chandigarh to southern Chennai.

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