Several hundred people in Pune in Maharashtra formed a human chain in support of the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on Saturday evening. The human chain extended from the famous Balgandharva auditorium to Decan Gymkhana, separated by a distance of approximately 500 metres. The participants comprised youngsters, senior citizens, women, working professionals besides members of various organisations who waved National Flags.
They held placards with the slogans like 'India Supports CAA', 'Padhai Karo, Patharbaji Nahi', 'Stop Hinduphobia', 'Atithi deo bhava', 'Country First', 'We support our persecuted brothers and sisters from across the borders with open arms' written on them, and shouted slogans.
The CAA grants Indian citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants escaping religious persecution from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Vijay Mahajan, a lawyer who took part in the pro-CAA rally, said he came to know about the event through social media.
"I decided to take part and express my support to the CAA," he said, adding that a section of people are opposing the new law and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise due to a misunderstanding.
"The fact is that (non-Muslim) minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan are being persecuted in their respective countries and they are looking at India with hope," he added.
Another citizen, A M Sutawane, said genuine Indian citizens need not worry about the new law. A senior citizen said that as the CAA was passed in Parliament with majority, it must be implemented in toto.
Over the last few days, the new law and the talks of the NRC brought out thousands of protesters on streets in many parts of the country.
The anti-CAA protests had turned violent in states like Assam, West Bengal, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh etc. where incidents of arson, stone-pelting and firing were reported in some areas.
In Uttar Pradesh alone, 15 people, including an eight-year-old boy, were killed since Thursday in violent agitations. Similar protests were witnessed in Beed, Parbhani, Nanded and Hingoli districts of Marathawada region of Maharashtra on Friday, leaving at least a dozen persons injured in stone pelting.
The Union government has been trying to allay the fears over the implementation of the CAA, saying it is not aimed at targetting any particular religious community.
A few states like Kerala, Bihar and West Bengal had opposed implementation of the CAA and the proposed NRC.
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