Agitations spread to rural pockets of Maharashtra

Incidents of violence in Hingoli, Beed, Parbhani; lakhs come take part in Pune rally

December 20, 2019 10:03 pm | Updated December 21, 2019 01:12 am IST - Pune

Listen to us: People gather in large numbers outside District Collectorate office in Pune on Friday to protest over the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens

Listen to us: People gather in large numbers outside District Collectorate office in Pune on Friday to protest over the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens

Protests over the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) took a violent turn in parts of rural Maharashtra on Friday with stray incidents of vandalism and stone-pelting.

There were reports of Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses being damaged in Kalamnuri in Hingoli and Ambejogai tehsil in Beed, and a Fire Department vehicle being damaged in stone-pelting in Parbhani district. All three districts witnessed massive demonstrations against the CAA and NRC.

While the local police managed to keep the situation under control, an uneasy calm prevailed in these districts. Several shops and establishments downed shutters in Parbhani.

The anti-CAA protests drew an overwhelming response across the rural hinterland and in the urban pockets with lakhs of people turning up for the rallies.

In Aurangabad, a protest rally was called by All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) MP Imtiaz Jaleel.

“The anti-Muslim disposition of the Modi government is in evidence in the CAA and in their desire to implement the NRC. Instead of trying to reassure the minority community, Union Home Minister Amit Shah seems to have brought this law for the sole purpose of harassing the minority community,” Mr. Jaleel said.

He added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr. Shah behaved as if they were the only two wise people in this country at a time when intellectuals, academics, activists, students, eminent artistes and individuals were protesting against their divisive policies across the length and breadth of the country.

The rally saw the participation of over a lakh people with the people holding the Tricolour and photos of Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar.

“We have forbidden people from carrying flags or banners of any political person or party…the message that we intend to send is that we are politically aware citizens keen on safeguarding our Constitution,” Mr. Jaleel said.

In Pune, lakhs of people from more than 30 Muslim and Dalit outfits staged a ‘muk morcha’ (silent rally) from Babajan Dargah in the city’s predominantly Muslim-dominated Camp area to District Collector’s office.

“The CAA and the NRC runs contrary to the country’s spirit of pluralism and religious toleration. Religion cannot be made the basis of granting or depriving citizenship. If the NRC is implemented, it will lead to untold hardships on the Muslim community residing in this country for centuries, while at the same time destroying the social fabric of this nation,” said Anjum Inamdar, founder of the Mulnivasi Muslim Manch.

Others condemned the violence that had erupted during protests in Ahmedabad, Lucknow and other parts of the country while stressing upon the need to continue with anti-CAA and anti-NRC agitation in a strictly constitutional manner.

In Kolhapur, a protest by left, Ambedkarite and Muslim outfits was staged near the District Collectorate amid heavy security deployment, while protests were taken out in many parts of neighbouring Sangli district.

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