Indian authorities continue to use force on protesters against the ‘anti-Muslim’ citizenship bill

“The police have entered the campus by force, no permission was given. Our staff and students are being beaten up and forced to leave the campus.”

More than 100 students have reportedly been injured during clashes with Indian security forces and police, during the ongoing protests against the controversial new citizenship bill that the Indian government passed last week. Dubbed the ‘anti-Muslim’ bill, this new bill will specifically only grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians who have either fled to or moved to India. All Muslims who fall under this same category will not be granted citizenship.

Modi’s leading BJP government has increasingly come under fire for its Hindu-nationalist and seemingly anti-Muslim rhetoric – especially with the controversial citizen’s register in Assam that left 1.9 million mainly Muslim Indians stateless and the continued crackdown in the Muslim-majority region of Kashmir. This new citizenship bill has since caused massive protests across India.

Students in the capital of New Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) university and Uttar Pradesh’s Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) have been at the center of massive protests, with more than 100 students injured during the ensuing clashes. Students at JMI marched towards Parliament on Sunday, joined by residents, to protest against the bill. The protesters were then met by police, with armed policemen later storming the university and firing tear gas into some classrooms. Local reports are also stating that students praying a the local mosque were also attacked.

Local authorities have closed all schools around JMI, and the university itself announced on Saturday that it was closing early for winter holidays. Waseem Ahmed, JMI’s Chief Proctor, told news reporters:

The police have entered the campus by force, no permission was given. Our staff and students are being beaten up and forced to leave the campus.”

There have also been numerous accounts from the students themselves about Indian police forcibly beating and entering the university, irregardless of whether or not the students were protesting or not. Mohmmad Minhaj Uddin, a law student at JMI, told Al Jazeera:

I don’t know why I was beaten up. I wasn’t even protesting. I was in the university library when police entered the campus. They broke the lock of the library gate and entered inside and beat everyone who came in their way…In panic, I fell on to the ground. They hit me on the eye.”

Many other students have been since detained, while those who have been injured have been taken to the Al-Shifa Hospital. Similar accounts have been reported from the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh, where the thousands of students who joined in the protests against the citizenship bill were harshly beaten and detained. The university as of now reportedly remains closed.

Protests are continuing across India, and in the northeastern state of Assam, where Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government implemented a citizen’s register where 1.9 mostly Muslims were rendered stateless, clashes with police have seen at least six demonstrators killed. Indian authorities have reportedly also shut down phone lines and the internet in several parts of the country where the protests are severe, in a worryingly similar move to what is currently happening in Kashmir.

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