What seemed to be a case of public indifference till late afternoon turned out to be a large-scale rejection of the Centre’s new citizenship law and the proposed NRC by late Thursday evening with at least twelve districts reporting varying levels of protests in Madhya Pradesh.
Demonstrations swept through a dozen districts as the Congress-ruled state joined the nationwide agitation against the Centre’s twin controversial measures, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).
Bhopal, Shajapur, Khandwa, Khargone, Seoni, Gwalior, Betul, Ratlam, Barwani, Sagar, Ujjain and Panna reported agitation according to inputs gathered at the state police situation room in Bhopal. Prohibitory orders under CrPC section 144, banning assembly of people, were clamped in 43 of the 52 districts in the state, said inspector Harman Lakra from the situation room.
Protesters included members from various sections of the society. The protests were peaceful and no untoward incident has been reported from any of the hot spots except Khandwa where incidents of stone-pelting were reported. Nine districts — Guna, Shivpuri, Alirajpur, Dhar, Betul, Dindori, Hoshangabad, Tikamgarh and Niwari — avoided enforcing prohibitory orders under section 144. Districts.
In Khandwa, protesters returning from the site of an anti-CAA agitation pelted stones at police, resulting in tension in the communally sensitive town, officials said.
Police wielded batons to disperse the stone-pelting crowd which damaged a car, they said. Defying prohibitory orders imposed in the town, a large number of people gathered in the Idgah area to protest against CAA and NRC.
The police asked the protesters, who were raising slogans, not to take out the rally, he said.
But while returning from the venue they formed a rally and raised slogans. On being prevented they pelted stones. The youths were carrying placards with slogans against CAA and NRC.
City Superintendent of Police (CSP) Lalit Gathre and Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Keshav Pande reached the spot to control the situation.
Congress governments in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, and Rajasthan have refused to implement the law. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath had, on December 16, said the Congress party is against anything which scares anyone or triggers suspicion in anyone’s mind.
The diversity of cultures forms the identity of our country and we are opposed to anything which goes against this tradition, the chief minister claimed.
However, even as the states have opposed the CAA, Union Home Ministry claims the states do not have any power over its implementation. “The new legislation has been enacted under the Union List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution. The states have no power to reject the Lalwani,” an MHA official said.
BJP member of Lok Sabha Shankar Lalwani from Indore had tried to trigger trouble on Tuesday by claiming Pakistan-backed militants and activists of the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) were behind the violence in different parts of the country. Indore, the commercial hub of the state has remained calm and indifferent to the protest calls.
In Panna town, the students protested through a peaceful demonstration carrying placards while tying black bands on the mouth. The placards said CAA disrespected the Constitution and its main author Baba Saheb Ambedkar and discriminating against the citizens based on religion. The protesters submitted a memorandum to the President through Tehsildar.