India saw its worst day of violence since the start of protests against the amended Citizenship Act that left three people dead in different parts of the country on Thursday. Protests raged in multiple cities on Thursday with scores of students, activists and others defying prohibitory orders to voice their dissent against the new citizenship law. Violent clashes between police and protesters took place in various cities including Lucknow, Mangaluru and Ahmedabad. While two people were killed in police firing in Mangaluru, a 25-year-old man died of firearm injury in Lucknow but police claimed that the death was not linked to the agitation or any police action. Curfew was imposed in Mangaluru where thousands of protesters ran amok.
Authorities resorted to barricading and clampdown on mobile services, including an unprecedented one in the national capital, while protesters also faced tear gas shelling and police batons at some places including in Uttar Pradesh where incidents of arson and stone pelting gave the protests a violent colour.
Opposition parties also joined forces to attack the Modi government on the new law which they said goes against the "idea of India", even as the ruling BJP asserted there would be no rethink on implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) would also be brought in.
Protests remained largely peaceful at most places with the agitators depending on slogans and placards to express their opposition to the new law and what they called 'barbaric police action' against students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University. Some groups of protesters in Delhi also offered roses to policemen, saying love is their only answer even for tear gas shells and batons.
In the neighbouring Uttar Pradesh, where violent clashes saw at least a dozen vehicles including bikes, being set afire, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said those who damaged public property would have to pay for it and the culprits have been identified through video and CCTV footage. "We will take revenge" by auctioning their property to compensate for the losses, he said.
There were incidents of stone pelting and arson in Bihar as well, while rail and road traffic was hit in several states.
Left leaders Sitaram Yechury, D Raja, Nilotpal Basu and Brinda Karat, activist Yogendra Yadav and historian Ramachandra Guha were among those who were detained in various parts of the country for taking part in the anti-citizenship law stirs for defying prohibitory orders.
According to Delhi Police, over 1,200 protesters were detained and kept in make-shift jails for several hours. It said no untoward incident was reported during the protests. Besides police personnel, 52 companies of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and CRPF were deployed to maintain law and order in the city. Delhi Police also used drones to keep a watch on protesters.
CrPC section 144 was imposed by Delhi Police in Red Fort area, but that did not deter scores of students and activists from converging there to raise their voice against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the police crackdown in JMI and AMU. The agitators were put into buses in a bid to clear the Red Fort area. Holding placards and shouting slogans, the protesters allowed themselves to be escorted to the buses.
A large number of protesters converged near Sunehri Masjid in Old Delhi, after being pushed back by police from the historic Red Fort. They were heard raising slogans of 'Hum Honge Kamyaab', 'Inquilab Zindabad' filled the air. Slogans of 'CAA Se Azaadi and NRC Se Azaadi' were also raised by the crowd, which included locals from Old Delhi and East Delhi and a large number of students. A large number of protestors gathered at the Jantar Mantar as well.
Large parts of Delhi and Gurgaon reeled under massive traffic jams for hours as police erected barricades to check the movement of protesters. Entry and exit gates of at least 20 Delhi Metro stations were shut for up to eight hours.
Internet, voice and messaging services by Airtel, Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio were suspended in parts of Delhi-NCR, in perhaps for the first time in the national capital, inconveniencing people.
Ramchandra Guha, who was detained in Bengaluru for defying prohibitory orders, said it was "absolutely undemocratic" that police were not allowing even a peaceful protest, which is the democratic right of citizens. The Communist Party of India too staged demonstrations in Bengaluru against the citizenship law and the proposed nation-wide NRC.
Protests were also held at several other places in the state, including in Hubballi, Kalaburagi, Hassan, Mysuru and Ballary where police detained demonstrators who violated prohibitory orders.
In Mangaluru, vehicles were set on fire and stones hurled at police personnel as protesters allegedly went on the rampage. Some protesters attempted to lay siege to the Mangalore North police station and tried to attack police personnel, following which force was used to disperse them. Two persons received bullet injuries in police firing and they later succumbed at a hospital, police confirmed. The deceased were identified as Jaleel Kudroli (49) and Nausheen (23).
In UP, while a state transport bus was set on fire in Sambhal area of the state, while violent protests broke out in capital Lucknow too when a mob pelted stones and torched vehicles parked outside a police post. DGP OP Singh said police had to fire teargas shells to control the situation in Madeyganj area, while nearly 20 people have been taken into custody.
The opposition Samajwadi Party and Congress legislators held their protest at the legislative assembly complex in Lucknow.
AMU teachers held a silent march opposing the new law in Aligarh. Hundreds of AMU students protesting against the amended Citizenship Act clashed with police on Sunday at a campus gate, leaving 60 injured. After the protest, the adminstration had announced closure of the university till January 5.
In Bihar, members of Left-wing student organisations squatted on railway tracks at Rajendra Nagar Terminus early in the morning, while hundreds of activists of Jan Adhikar Party (JAP), floated by controversial ex-MP Pappu Yadav, burnt tyres on an adjacent road. They also vandalized an ambulance which tried to make its way through the road and head towards a residential locality nearby.
In Jehanabad, which had been a stronghold of the ultra-Left movement in Bihar, CPI(ML) activists disrupted traffic on national highways.
In Maharashtra, the Congress, NCP and various other parties came together under a front called 'Hum Bharat Ke Log' for a protest rally at Mumbai's August Kranti Maidan, the place where in 1942 Mahatma Gandhi told the then British rulers to quit India. Noted freedom fighter G G Parikh, 94, who participated in the Quit India movement in 1942, was present at the Maidan.
The rally saw thousands of people, including workers of political parties, students, professionals and also a smattering of Bollywood personalities, who made a strong case against the Act and the NRC. However, Maharashtra's ruling alliance partner Shiv Sena kept itself out of the rally.
At a rally in Kolkata, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee dared the Modi government to go for a UN-monitored referendum over the amended law and the proposed nationwide NRC and said the BJP will have to quit if it fails such a "mass vote".
Two persons were arrested for hurling crude bombs on a group of anti-CAA protesters in West Bengal's North Dinajpur district, police said.
A protest against the in the Muslim-dominated Shah-E-Alam area of Ahmedabad violent on Thursday, with at least five policemen getting injured in stone-pelting. The police lobbed teargas shells to disperse the mob of around 2,000 persons.
A video clip aired by a local news channel showed agitators hurling stones at police vehicles. In the footage, some policemen at the site can be seen taking cover behind moving police vehicles to save themselves from the stones coming from both sides of the road. Another video showed some people thrashing a policemen who fell down from a moving police bus.
Earlier in the afternoon, police baton-charged people who gathered in Sardar Baug garden in Mirzapur area here to protest against the Citizenship Act and NRC. Police dispersed nearly 200 protesters as they had not obtained permission for the demonstration, and at least 20 of them were detained, said inspector F M Nayab, a local police official.
Protests in Assam and Meghalaya, which were at the centre of the stir initially, were largely peaceful. Protests were also held in Telangana, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Chandigarh, Jammu, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, among other states.