In a show of solidarity, scores of students from universities in Delhi, accompanied by activists and citizens, marched from Mandi House to Jantar Mantar on Tuesday voicing their protest against the amended Citizenship Act. The march commenced around 12.45 pm amid cries of 'Halla Bol', 'Chhatra Ekta Zindabad', 'Jai Bhim', and anti-government slogans by scores of protesters from different universities like Jawaharlal Nehru University, JMI and Delhi University.
They marched carrying cutouts of BR Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, Zakir Hussain, freedom fighters like Bhagat Singh, Chandra Shekhar Azad, Ashfaqulla Khan and even the Preamble of India, as they voiced their dissent against the new citizenship law, which has led to nationwide protests.
The march proceeded towards Jantar Mantar without police permission and saw even women with their young daughters participating in the protest. At the demonstration, a woman from Chittaranjan Park grabbed eyeballs as she walked with her three-year-old twin daughters.
The twins had snowmen painted on their cheeks as they were attending the protest after school where they were part of Christmas celebrations.
"I got them here directly from school. They should know what is happening in the country," said Kiran, who only identified herself by her first name.
"The prime minister has created more confusion over the issue. He said that the NRC has not been discussed but the president has spoken about it. Even the home minister has spoken about NRC in Parliament. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has to clarify that the NRC will not happen," Swaraj Abhiyan leader Yogendra Yadav said.
Former student leader Umar Khalid said not only was the civil society resisting the legislation, but several chief ministers and political parties had criticised it as well. He also raised questions about violence in such protests.
"The only instances of violence in such protests have happened in BJP-ruled states. There is a design here. What is happening in Uttar Pradesh is extremely shameful as police have barged into people's houses and that needs to be condemned by all.
"The prime minister spoke about damage to property but not even once about the loss of lives during such protests," Khalid said.
He said the government is not concerned about issues like unemployment, women's safety and the only issue they are concerned about is the citizenship law which is a big fraud.
Around the time the march was proceeding peacefully to Jantar Mantar amid a heavy deployment of security personnel, over 70 student and youth organisations across the country came together under an umbrella body to intensify the protest against the new law, the proposed nationwide NRC and the National Population Register (NPR).
On New Year's Day, members of the National Young India Coordination and Campaign and those supporting the movement will take a pledge to save the Constitution. They have also coined a slogan: "New Year's Resolution -- Defend Constitution".
Addressing a press conference here, they demanded withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act before the 71st Republic Day next year. Meanwhile, the Jamia Teachers' Association (JTA) requested all the citizens including Jamia fraternity to suspend their protests, against CAA-NRC, on the occasion of Christmas on Wednesday.
"Christmas is a globally celebrated festival to commemorate the birth of Jesus around the world. Therefore, JTA appeals to spread message of peace and love for humanity," they said.
The students of Jamia Millia Islamia also said they will be celebrating Christmas on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Samviddhan Bachao Sangharsh Samiti will organise a public meeting against the act on Wednesday which will see the presence of author Arundhati Roy and actors Swara Bhasker and Zeeshan Ayyub.