Expressing solidarity with those protesting against the amended citizenship act, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Sunday, 12 January, visited Jamia Millia Islamia and Shaheen Bagh and said that the law was against the ideals of unity espoused by Mahatma Gandhi.
Tharoor later travelled in metro to reach JNU where he addressed the students and condemned the violence by a masked mob on 5 January.
Tharoor said that the 15 December police action against the students of Jamia is a "blot on the nation".
Terming the Citizenship Amendment Act as “discriminatory”, Tharoor asserted that it is against the ideals of unity espoused by Mahatma Gandhi.
"Whatever happened on 15 December, is a blot on nation. Without any provocation, without any intimation to the vice chancellor, they (police) entered hostels and attacked women students. Students studying in library were attacked, which is a 'shame, shame, shame' and not acceptable at all," he told the cheering crowd.
Tharoor Faces Disruption at Jamia
Meanwhile, Tharoor faced protests and disruption while speaking at Jamia University for an earlier tweet where he said "Our fight against Hindutva extremism should give no comfort to Islamist extremism either."
Some of the protesters had come to raise posters against the tweet but they were pushed back by the people who were managing the crowd. The posters read: ‘la ilaha illallah’ and were allegedly torn.
The Quint’s reporter Anthony Rozario, who was there at the location said that even when reporters tried to go close to these protesters, they weren’t allowed.
Speaking to The Quint, some of the protesters also said that they were manhandled by "Congress goons"
“Congress goons tore these posters. Who will define the ‘idea of India’? If you have a problem with our kalma, then we don’t believe in this ‘idea of India’, be it congress or BJP. The fight that is happening against us is because of our identity and our identity is because of our kalma.”Mohammed Arshad Warsi, JNU student
Another protester Shadaan who is an IT professional told The Quint, “We are here to say ‘la ilaha illallah’ is not extremism. It is a message of peace, message of humanity for all. We were here to protest against fascism.”
Tharoor was accompanied to Jamia by Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Subhash Chopra.
While addressing hundreds of protesters, Tharoor said, "The CAA is betrayal to ideals of Mahatama Gandhi, who sacrificed his life for the unity of the nation; to the unity of Hindus and Muslims. India, which Mahatma Gandhi wanted to see, will not be the India after the introduction of religion in the CAA.”
Tharoor said that though he was in Kerala on 15 December, when police had barged into the varsity library and allegedly used force against the protesting students, he had expressed solidarity with protesting students and wanted to meet them on reaching Delhi.
Modi-Shah Can Adopt Bhagwa, We Will Follow Tiranga: Tharoor at JNU
At Jawaharlal Nehru University, he condemned the events that unfolded on 5 January and demanded action against the accused. Terming citizenship law a religious test, he said that it is something that is happening in the country for the first time.
"It is the first time that a religious test has been introduced into the definition Indian citizenship," he said while delivering a talk on the amended citizenship law.
“Never before in our country has it mattered what your religion was to qualify to be an Indian citizen. The fact that this government doesn’t understand that is the biggest shame of all.”Shashi Tharoor, Congress leader
He further said, “Modi Shah can adopt the Bhagwa, we will follow the Tiranga, they can go with one religion, we will go with all.”
“In a country where General VK Singh said he couldn't provide his original birth certificate, can the poor show documents?,” he questioned.
"We have Amit Shah even today challenging Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee, 'Can you show me anything in this bill that takes away anybody's citizenship? ' That is a wrong question," he said.
"We have statements by sympathisers of the government saying this is upholding India's fine standards, giving asylum to persecuted minorities. I used to work for refugees at the UN. I know something about persecution and I know what the response to persecution is," he added.
He said the response to persecution is giving asylum to people from every country where they face persecution, never to send them back and never to ask them which religion they belong to.
His address at JNU ended with the gathering singing the national anthem.
(With inputs from PTI)