New Delhi: Student bodies across the country on Wednesday held virtual as well as symbolic protest demanding the release of activists arrested for protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, even as a scheduled demonstration at the Delhi University had to be cancelled after police denied permission.
Apart from the virtual protest, some students also held symbolic protests inside JNU and Jamia Millia Islamia campuses with some students holding placards.
At Jamia Millia Islamia, the police were deployed in anticipation of the protest but only two to three students turned up, sources said.
At DU, the call for organising a protest was given by students of the varsity's Arts Faculty but the police denied permission, citing restrictions in place owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The members of Students' Federation of India alleged that they were threatened by the police against holding protest demonstration, a charge denied by police.
During the virtual protest, students and activists carrying placards which read 'Sab Yaad Rakha Jaayega' and 'Down with CAA-NPR-NRC' took to Twitter and posted images expressing solidarity with Jamia Millia Islamia students Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar and Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal, who have been accused of being involved in the conspiracy behind the northeast Delhi riots in February and arrested.
Members of Jawaharlal Nehru Students' Union, Left-affiliated All India Students' Association (AISA), women's collective Pinjra Tod and others participated in the protest on Twitter.
"Stop Arresting Students & Activists! Stop charging fabricated cases on anti-CAA protestors! Repeal draconian UAPA! Release all political prisoners! Arrest the real perpetrators of Delhi Riots - the likes of Kapil Mishra & Anurag Thakur!" AISA tweeted.
The left outfit also shared pictures of how students, not only in India, but also abroad expressed solidarity with the protest.
The student bodies had given a call for protest asking participants to maintain social distancing and carry placards and posters in their locality and share videos and pictures on social media.
AISA member Damni Kain tweeted, "We have received solidarity from Greece, UK , Barcelona! The government needs to see that people across the world are standing against injustice and in solidarity with the oppressed. Release all political prisoners! No CAA, No NRC, No NPR!"
Meanwhile, the activists of Students' Federation of India (SFI) had given the call for the protest at the DU's Arts Faculty and had asked students to follow the guidelines.
The SFI alleged that their student leaders and members were repeatedly threatened by officials of Maurice Nagar police station for the last couple of days and had been asked not assemble in the Arts Faculty as there would be heavy police deployment.
They were also told that section 144 will be imposed and the students will get arrested and face serious charges, the SFI alleged.
State committee member Varkey said, "Due to the repeated threats we scattered even more and held small gatherings near Meera Bai park and Vijay Nagar, which is a residential area for all the university students.
"The government is using the COVID-19 situation to clamp down voices of dissent and shift the narrative from its own failure to contain the spread of the virus and flatten the curve to the Anti CAA- protesters and how anti-national they are."
Anticipating protests from the students' organisations, the police had deployed forces at the Arts Faculty of the Delhi University.
Refuting the allegations made by the student group, the police said they contacted the organisers of the protest and requested them not to assemble as section 144 is force in the wake ofCOVID-19 pandemic and any such gathering would be a violation.
In university campuses of Delhi, students observed symbolic protest demonstration following the physical distancing norms, the AISA said.
Similarly, students from Telangana, West Bengal, Bihar and other places protested at their homes against targeting of students.
Few students of Jamia Millia Islamia assembled and raised their concerns over arrest of their fellow students. Students raised placard with demands of "Release All Political Prisoners". Students of other Universities, including Ambedkar University also raised similar concerns.