About two dozen Indian students from various research institutes in Israel staged a silent protest in front of the Indian embassy here on Friday against the amended citizenship law and the proposed National Register of Citizens, terming them acts of “state-sponsored instrument of class and religious persecution”.
According to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 following religious persecution there will get Indian citizenship.
Protests are being held across India ever since the citizenship bill was introduced in Parliament earlier this month. The bill was passed by Parliament and signed into law by the President.
Holding Indian flags and posters with captions – “CAA is non-secular”, “students at work, country under construction”, “we built Statue of Unity, now we want social unity” and “criticism is integral to any democracy, listen to youth”s ”mann ki baat””, the students mainly from Weizmann Institute and Tel Aviv University stood in front of the Indian mission for several hours, braving inclement weather.
The students also condemned the violence and use of “excessive force against our fellow peers and other citizens in India”.
They termed the CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC) as “acts of state-sponsored instrument of class and religious persecution”.
“We call upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah not to curb our fundamental right of freedom of expression and peaceful protest,” the students said in a statement.
“The CAA in combination with the proposed NRC fundamentally contradicts the right to equality and secularism as per Article 14 and Article 15 of our Constitution respectively and can be used as a tool for harassment of bonafide Indians, as is already being witnessed in Assam. Where is the promise Ambedkar made?” it said.
With the “abuse of state machinery” to suppress the voice of dissent, destruction of property, the arrests of academics and students, the civilian casualties, India continues to be in search of achhe din, it said.
The students also accused the Indian government of spreading misinformation and attempting to incite communal riots and dividing the society on the basis of caste and religion.
They also condemned the “shut down of basic human rights in Kashmir for over 144 days”.
Several Indian researchers at the Israeli institutes told PTI that the protest was sparked after intense internal debates in the student community.
They said while a lot of them were agitated against “police brutality” on students, most of them did not want to come out in protest on the issue of CAA and NRC.
Several students confirmed that they dropped out of the demonstration because of the differences of opinion.
Meanwhile, local daily Ha”aretz published a full page story on its Thursday issue with the headlines, “The Indian Prime Minister wants a Hindu Rashtra and the Muslim citizens are paying the price for it”.
Protests are being held across India over the amended citizenship law and a possible NRC leaving around 20 dead and several more injured in clashes with the police,
Security was beefed up and patrolling intensified in sensitive areas across Uttar Pradesh on Friday in view of widespread violence by those protesting against the amended citizenship act last week which claimed 19 lives.