Fifty-one professors of the prestigious Banaras Hindu University in Uttar Pradesh and its affiliated colleges have launched a signature campaign against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the citizens’ list NRC.

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The move comes after the arrest of at least a dozen students of the university for participating in a protest against the law, called by Left organisations last Thursday. Student organisations at BHU say of the 12 arrested students, three are PhD students and eight are doing their MA degree and one is a BA student. At least three of these arrested live in hostels inside the campus and have mentioned this under the address section of the First Information Report.

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In a signed document accessed the professors say, “We request the government to rethink the long-term implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act and hope national interest would prevail over partisan politics. We also urge the protesters not to indulge in any kind of violence and express their disagreement through democratic and peaceful means.”

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The police in Varanasi have charged the students under serious sections of the law like rioting. They say no one was arrested from inside the university campus and they cannot say independently if those arrested are BHU students since they made no arrests from inside the campus.

An eight-year-old boy died in a stampede allegedly triggered by police baton-charging in a different part of Varanasi on the same day as the BHU arrests.

Representatives of the students insist they were protesting peacefully without even a hint of violence. Apart from the students, members of civil society groups and activists have also been under arrest since Thursday. A total of 69 people have been arrested by Varanasi Police since Thursday and in many locations, they have pasted posters with faces of alleged rioters.

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