Sinha to lead Mumbai-Delhi yatra against CAA, JNU violence

Mumbai, Jan 8 (PTI) Former Union minister Yashwant Sinha will lead a multi-state yatra (march) beginning on Thursday from here, seeking repeal of the amended citizenship act and a judicial probe by a sitting Supreme Court judge into 'state-sponsored violence' like the one in Delhi's JNU.

Speaking to reporters here, Sinha said the 'Gandhi Shanti Yatra' will also demand from the government to declare in Parliament that the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) will not be implemented.

The yatra, which will culminate at Raj Ghat in Delhi on January 30 -- the day when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated - will pass through Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, covering a distance of over 3,000 km.

NCP chief Sharad Pawar will flag off the yatra from the Gateway of India in south Mumbai, Sinha said, adding several organisations, including those representing farmers, will take part in the march.

At the press meet, Sinha was accompanied by former Maharashtra Chief Minister and Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan, ex-MP Shatrughan Sinha and Congress leader from Vidarbha Ashish Deshmukh.

Sinha, a former BJP member who held finance and external affairs portfolios in the Vajpayee cabinet, said the Rashtra Manch, the outfit he leads, named the yatra after Gandhi as peace has allegedly been disturbed across the country.

'Everything is disturbed. Education (sector) is disturbed, the economy is disturbed. And hence, we are taking out the yatra so that peace is restored in the country,' he told reporters.

The 82-year-old bureaucrat-turned-politician said the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), passed by Parliament last month, and fear of NRC have disturbed peace.

'Hence, we are demanding the government declare in Parliament that it will not implement NRC in the country, that it will repeal CAA.

'Secondly, there be a judicial inquiry by a sitting Supreme Court judge into the state-sponsored violence, the latest being the JNU violence, and the perpetrators are punished at the earliest,' the former Union minister said.

Referring to the JNU episode, he said it has become a 'new normal' in the criminal justice system of India to treat victims as accused.

Sinha's comment came a day after the registration of a case in the JNU violence issue against the varsity's students union president Aishe Ghosh, who was injured in the brutal attack by a masked mob on Sunday night.

Chavan said the aim of the yatra is to see that the 'black law' - the CAA - is repealed immediately.

He said the BJP-led government at the Centre is 'threatening' to implement the CAA despite protests and allegedly people will be identified and sent to detention centres.

'You will send people who you think are intruders to detention camps. Where are we heading? Are we creating detention centres on the line of concentration centres which were there in (Nazi) Germany?' Chavan asked.

Without naming anyone, Congress leader and former BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha alleged several people believe that many of the MPs who got elected to the Lok Sabha 'due to EVMs' were 'pressurised' to vote for passage of the CAA in Parliament or else they will not ticket next time.

'Some people think several of the members were elected to Parliament due to EVMs or malfunctioning of EVMs,' Shatrughan Sinha said.

'Several people think these people were pressurised saying if they will not get ticket (in next elections) if they did not vote in favour (of the CAA).

'So, it seems that the passage (of the CAA) was the result of the pressure tactic and force. We will try to see it is repealed in the Parliament itself,' the actor-politician added.

The ex-Patna Sahib MP described NRC as the 'mother of anarchy' and noted the CAA, NRC and NPR were not different from each other.

Deshmukh alleged whatever happened inside the JNU of late was because the university administration has people who follow the ideology of the RSS.

He said JNU Vice-Chancellor M Jagadesh Kumar, too, is considered to be following RSS ideology.

Deshmukh alleged the previous Devendra Fadnavis government, too, had appointed people linked to the RSS in universities in Maharashtra.

'We sense something of that sort may happen in universities in Maharashtra too...Hence, I demand Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ji to remove those linked to the RSS from universities in the state so that there is no condemnable act like JNU happening in universities here,' he added. PTI ENM RSY RSY