Appealing for restraint while exercising what he calls the democratic right to protest, the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid has stressed that the citizenship law at the core of massive protests across the country “has nothing to do with Muslims living in India”. He also reminds that the NRC or National Register of Citizens, the other trigger for the protests, “has not become a law” yet.
Protests have erupted in college campuses in many parts of the country over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which makes it easier for non-Muslims from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to become Indian citizens. Protesters, opposition parties and petitions before the Supreme Court argue that the law discriminates against Muslims and citizenship based on religion is against the constitution.
“To protest is the democratic right of the people of India, no one can stop us from doing it. However, it is important that it is done in control, keeping our emotions in control is the most important part,” Shahi Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari said on Tuesday, according to a video posted by news agency ANI.
He also sought to explain that the citizenship law does not affect Muslims living in India but Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
“There is a difference between Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) & National Register of Citizens (NRC). One is CAA that has become a law, and the other is NRC that has only been announced, it has not become a law. Under CAA, the Muslim refugees who come to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh will not get Indian citizenship. It has nothing to do with the Muslims living in India,” said the Shahi Imam.
Imam Ahmed Bukhari, the top cleric of Jama Masjid, one of the largest mosques of India, put out the appeal for restraint after violence at Delhi’s Jamia Millia University on Sunday, when protesters clashed with the police. Several students were injured when the police stormed the campus and 100 were arrested and released later.
Yesterday, there were protests in Seelampur and Brijpuri in east Delhi, where protesters threw stones at the police and vandalized vehicles. The police used batons and tear gas on the protesters.