Blaming the principal opposition party for orchestrating protests against the Citizenship Act, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said the Congress party is encouraging forces that talk of breaking India.
Claiming that the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is “duty-bound” to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the minister said:
“Rahul Gandhi has no political resonance with the people of India. It is surprising that the Congress party is hearing the news only now. Congress has never done anything in the interest of the country".
Finance Minister Sitharaman was responding to a question about the opposition's criticism of the Citizenship Bill, abrogation of Article 370, and national register of citizenship at the India Economic Conclave organised by the media house Times Network.
“Congress is participating with the fringe elements. Congress is giving encouragement to the forces that talk about breaking India", she added.
In New Delhi, students from Jamia Millia Islamia University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Delhi University have been protesting for the last two days.
Students from the three universities held overnight demonstrations against the use of force by Delhi Police on protesters.
The Sunday demonstrations were held in front of the Delhi Police HQ from late in the evening until the wee hours of Monday.
Responding to a query on protests by university students, Sitharaman said: “Universities are always a place where the students go through a high level of idealism. Protests by university students have happened even in the past during (former prime minister) Indira Gandhi’s regime. The problem is when these protests are joined by the political parties".
The protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) triggered from India’s northeastern states (mainly Assam and Tripura) last week. These have now spread in various places across the country including Lucknow, Bangaluru, and Kolkata.
The opposition-led Indian state governments like West Bengal, Punjab, and Kerala have opposed the Act.
Jamia Milia Islamia University’s Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar said on Monday in a press conference that the university will file a first information report (F.I.R) against the Delhi Police.
She also demanded a high-level inquiry against the Delhi Police for allegedly entering the campus without any permission from university authorities as is required and supposedly beating up students.
The protests have claimed the lives of six people so far, with over 100 activists and 35 policemen being injured in demonstrations. The amended citizenship law has facilitated Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Sikh, Christians, Parsis, and Buddhists who faced persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and entered the country before 2015. It, however, doesn't provide any perks to Muslims, something which protesters say undermines the Indian Constitution.