Footage Of A Group Of Women Confronting Police Brutality Has Gone Massively Viral. They Said They Were Just Protecting Their Friend.

Critics have said the Citizenship Amendment Act undercuts the principles of India's foundation as a secular democracy.

NEW DELHI — “Go back! Go back!” the women shouted at riot police as a man was dragged out into the street and beaten with wooden batons.

The women formed a human shield around the man in the street, even as police continued to strike him before eventually retreating, allowing the bloodied man to stand up and tell everyone to go back inside.

Footage of the incident, filmed yesterday in New Delhi, has spread like wildfire across India, as protests against a new citizenship law criticized as being anti-Muslim erupt across the country.

Shameful and disgusting response of Police Your job is to de-escalate the situation and not hit back, beat people and stir up violence!

The protests are now in their fifth day as authorities respond with a heavy-handed police crackdown and internet shutdowns in parts of the country. The online blackout comes as the disputed region of Kashmir still languishes in a government-enforced internet shutdown.

Indian lawmakers voted through the Citizenship Amendment Act last week. The new measure offers a path to Indian citizenship for persecuted religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh. But the definition of religious minority includes almost every religion except Islam.

The law being passed follows comments from India’s minister of home affairs that the government would launch a new nationwide campaign to identify undocumented migrants, and both have prompted concerns that India’s Hindu nationalist ruling party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), will selectively target India’s Muslims for detention and deportation.

Critics say the act goes against the principles of India’s foundation as a secular democracy. Protests originally broke out in northeastern India last week and have spread to other major cities.

The confrontation between the women defending their friend and riot police took place close to the campus of the prestigious Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi, where protests took place on Sunday.

While the demonstrations began peacefully, clashes later broke out when police moved in, with footage posted online showing police firing tear gas into the university library and assaulting students inside campus bathrooms.

I am going to document police brutality in this thread against protestors. #CABProtest #IndiaAgainstCAB - Young girls who were protesting badly beaten. Some of them injured.

Two of the women who came to the man’s aid in the video have been identified as Ladeeda Sakhaloon and Ayesha Renna, both 22 years old and students at the university.

The two women also feature prominently in another viral image from the university protests, chanting slogans while standing on a wall.

About last night, women of Jamia Millia Islamia lead the way in opposing the bigoted Citizenship Amendment Act and calls for all India NRC. #CABEkDhokaHai

In one of their first interviews, they told Indian broadcaster Barkha Dutt they felt they had no choice but to defend their friend from riot police.

"We are not scared" -Ladeeda Farzana & Ayesha Renna 22 & from Kerala. They were centre of 2 viral images from #Jamia, one in which you see women punching the sky,arms astride on a roof, the other in which they surround a male friend to save him from lathis. I met them. Excerpts

“We were not scared," said Sakhaloon. “He’s our brother.”

Taken together, the images of the young women chanting slogans and defending their friend have led to comparisons between the protests in India and the women who were at the forefront of the uprising in Sudan earlier this year.

Oru Viral Puratchi (One finger revolution.) Art by Ponvannan. #CABProtests

The government claims that Muslims do not need a special status because they are not a minority in India’s Muslim-majority neighbors, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted on Monday that the act does not “affect any citizen of India of any religion.”

I want to unequivocally assure my fellow Indians that CAA does not affect any citizen of India of any religion. No Indian has anything to worry regarding this Act. This Act is only for those who have faced years of persecution outside and have no other place to go except India.

Due to internet shutdowns, many people protesting will have been unable to read Modi’s tweets.

Matthew Champion provided additional reporting from London.

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