Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday demanded constitution of a comprehensive high-powered commission to enquire into the incidents connected with the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and justice to the affected persons, and said that NPR 2020 was not a benign exercise but rather a ‘disguised NRC’ in form and content.
Delivering the opening address at a meeting of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), she termed the CAA as a discriminatory and divisive law. “The sinister purpose of the law is clear to every patriotic, tolerant and secular Indian: it is to divide the Indian people on religious lines,” she said.
Lauding the students spearheading the CAA demonstrators, she said, “Thousands of young men and women, especially students, have realized the grave harm the CAA implementation will cause. They have taken to the streets braving the cold as well as the police brutalities.
“I salute their courage, their abiding faith in the values of the Constitution of India, and their determination to defend and protect those values. We are inspired by their struggle. As the students protest gains momentum, it is clear that the government is digging in its heels. Not a day passes without the Home Minister, and on some days the Prime Minister himself, making provocative statements.”
She called upon the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to support the movement. “The CWC must categorically declare that millions of Congress workers will stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of India in their struggle for equality, equal protection of the laws, justice and dignity,” she said.
The Congress president made a special mention of the situation in UP and Delhi.
“The situation in some states is alarming, turning the states into police states, notably in Uttar Pradesh and the Union Territory of Delhi. We are appalled by the police excesses and use of brute force in many towns of UP, in Jamia Millia, in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Banaras Hindu University, Allahabad University, Delhi University, Gujarat University, Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. We offer our deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and to those who were injured,” she said.
“We have no faith that either the UP state government or the LG of Delhi will bring the culprits to justice. We therefore demand that a comprehensive high-powered commission should be constituted to enquire into the incidents connected with the anti-CAA protests and justice to the affected persons,” she added.
Talking about NPR, she said, “At first, the government thought that the NRC exercise could be carried out throughout the country. After the disastrous results of the Assam NRC, the government has hit upon the idea of NPR. Let us not be under any illusion that the NPR is a benign exercise. In form and content, NPR 2020 is a disguised NRC. As a party in government in several states, we must take a wise and uniform decision on NPR, and I invite you to share your views on the subject.”
Gandhi also expressed concern about the economy, saying, “As for the state of the economy, it seems to me that the government has neither the wisdom nor the will to take measures to stop the downslide in the economy which is causing untold misery to practically all sections of society.
The Congress President also spoke about the situation in Jammu & Kashmir. “It is a matter of anguish and concern that the people in Jammu & Kashmir continue to be denied their fundamental rights while the government makes farcical claims of normalcy and arranges guided tours of diplomats. Former chief ministers and senior leaders of mainstream Parties continue to be in detention. The shut down in the valley is now in its fifth month. It is important that the fundamental rights of the citizens are respected and restrictions are lifted,” she said.
She also spoke out the conflict between the US and Iran, saying, “The shocking developments in the Gulf Region and the outbreak of hostilities between the USA and Iran are a matter of grave concern. For India, much is at stake: our energy security and the welfare of large Indian Diaspora. Any escalation of the conflict will have serious consequences for the region and the world. We hope that the current situation will be diffused.”
The CWC passed the following resolution:
“The Modi Government has unleashed the entire might of the brute State power to suppress, subjugate and stifle the voice of the youth and students across the country. Prime Minister and the BJP Government have betrayed the trust of the youth.
“A concerted attack on the Constitution, rampant unemployment, commercialization of education, unprecedented fee hikes and autocratic refusal to listen to the voice and concerns of youth-students have led to spontaneous protests across the colleges and university campuses. Instead of listening to the students, the only response of BJP Government has been to unleash police lathi charge, tear gas shells, forcible arrests, lodging of FIRs and even planned attacks on the protesting students and the youth.
“Almost every institution in the country – from Delhi University, JNU, Jamia Millia University , Banaras Hindu University, Allahabad University, AMU, and many others have seen massive protests.
“Modi Government is systematically attacking the culture of creative thinking and learning, of questioning the hierarchy and of inculcating the culture of assimilation and cohabitation. BJP government realizes that students and the young cannot be divided through its sectarian agenda. Hence, a designed conspiracy has been unleashed to attack the centres of creative and independent thinking i.e. colleges and universities.
“The Congress Working Committee expresses its solidarity with the youth and the students in their fight for defending the Constitution, standing for independent and creative learning and aspiring for employment-linked education at a minimal expense. CWC resolves that every worker of the Congress Party will work alongside India’s youth and the students in this endeavor.”