From JNU, Jamia, Shaheen Bagh, Shashi Tharoor takes on govt on CAA

Shashi Tharoor at a protest in New Delhi on Sunday. (Express photo by Gajendra Yadav)

Senior Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor visited Jawaharlal Nehru University on Sunday and launched a stinging attack against the government over the Citizenship Amendment Act(CAA), saying "a religious test had been introduced into the definition of Indian citizenship for the first time".

"I had introduced in the last Lok Sabha a draft asylum law, this government rejected that. They are not interested in upholding our finest ideals. They cite Swami Vivekananda, whose Jayanti (birth anniversary) is today. But Swami Vivekananda spoke of giving shelter and refuge to persecuted people of all nations and faiths," Tharoor told a gathering of students at JNU, a week after a masked mob ran riot inside the campus, injuring 36 students and teachers.

"All nations and faiths — not just three countries you pick and choose, not just six faiths you pick and choose. This government pays lip service to Swami Vivekananda but betrays his ideals. He would not be proud of a government that takes such a stand," Tharoor further said.

Earlier in the day, Shashi Tharoor visited Shaheen Bagh area of New Delhi, where protests have been underway for close to a month against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and called the agitating women the "pride of the city".

In a tweet, Tharoor said that it was heartwarming to meet and address the courageous women of Shaheen Bagh whose resistance is now legendary and that they are the "pride of the city".

"Heartwarming to meet and address the courageous women of Shaheen Bagh whose resistance is now legendary. 'Aap is sheher ki shaan hain, Bharat desh ki jaan hain' I told them in my address," the senior Congress leader tweeted.

Tharoor also said that it was fabulous to witness the courage, passion, and determination of the women of Shaheen Bagh, including the nonagenarian “dadis” who have steadfastly protested against the contentious legislation from the beginning.

For nearly a month now, women residents of Shaheen Bagh have been staging a sit-in on Kalindi Kunj Road to protest against the CAA and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC). The protest continues day in and day out and attracts a huge crowd every day.

Shashi Tharoor at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi on Sunday. (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)

Earlier in the day, Tharoor also visited and joined the protest against the Citizenship law outside the Jamia Millia Islamia University. He was accompanied by Congress president Subhash Chopra.

Widespread protests have been witnessed against the CAA that grants citizenship to individuals who are Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, or Parsi and who entered India from Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Afghanistan by the cut-off date of December 31, 2014 — excluding Muslims.

Protesters have argued that the law is unconstitutional in that it makes religion a criterion for citizenship. Concerns have also been raised over the proposed nationwide NRC, combined with the Act. After protests spread, the government has sought to downplay its narrative on NRC, but the has come into effect.