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Anti-CAA protests: Bollywood speak up for Jamia students


Mumbai, Dec 16: Condemning the police crackdown inside Jamia Millia university, several film industry insiders, including one from Hollywood, on Monday rallied behind the university's students and said the government is trying to stifle voices of dissent against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Hollywood star John Cusack joined prominent names from the Hindi film fraternity, including director Anurag Kashyap, Taapsee Pannu, Konkona Sensharma and Sudhir Mishra, in expressing his anger over Sunday's violence inside the campus.

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Thousands of students across India took to the streets demanding a probe into the use of teargas inside the Jamia library as well as police entering the campus without permission from university authorities on Sunday.

Jamia turned into a battlefield on Sunday as police entered the campus and used force to quell student protests against the Act.

Many on social media noted the usual silence of top stars, directors and producers in Bollywood but there were many who voiced their support for student protests.

"Serendipity" star Cusack also took note of the videos from inside the campus, which were circulated widely on social media. "Reports from Delhi are - it was a war zone last night - Fascism is not a joke - we use the word with the understanding, it's deadly," he said in a series of tweets after first asking for the context of the protests.

Director Anurag Kashyap, who had left Twitter in August this year, returned to the social media platform to voice his anger over the way student protests were handled.

"This has gone too far... (I) can't stay silent any longer. This government is clearly fascist... and it makes me angry to see voices that can actually make a difference stay quiet...," he tweeted.

Actor Taapsee Pannu said the videos of police action inside the campus are heartbreaking.

"Wonder if this is a start or the end. Whatever it is, this is surely writing new rules of the land and those who don't fit in can very well see the consequences. This video breaks heart and hopes all together. Irreversible damage, and I'm not talking about just the life and property," she wrote on Twitter.

Director Sudhir Mishra recalled his 1987 film "Yeh Woh Manzil Toh Nahin" with student politics in the backdrop. "Towards the climax, the police enter the campus and brutally beat up the students. Nothing has changed."

"We are with the students! Shame on you @DelhiPolice," said actor-filmmaker Konkona Sensharma.

"Newton" star Rajkummar Rao condemned the police action against the students while appealing for peaceful protests. "I strongly condemn the violence that the police have shown in dealing with the students. In a democracy, the citizens have the right to peacefully protest. I also condemn any kind of act of destruction of the public properties.

Violence is not the solution for anything!" he wrote on Twitter.

Writer-comedian Varun Grover said history will take note of what happened in Jamia.

"Whatever may be next, but this fact will always be in history that some cunning people tried to divide this great country in the name of religion, the most sacred place of a university, tears and gas on the students studying in the library, sticks, and rained abuses. The present will blur, history will remain," Grover tweeted.

Ali Fazal said now was not the time to stay silent for play safe, irrespective of one's ideological divide. "...I pray we all realise there is no job, no career above humanity. Socho, aur time kam hai toh act fast (Think, and if you have no time, then act fast). Irrespective of your political ideologies right now," he said.

Activist spearheading CAB protest in Assam closely linked to naxals

Actor Swara Bhasker said the way Delhi police treated students was "shocking and shameful".

Actor Manoj Bajpayee condemned the violence against students. "There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. With the students and their democratic rights to protest! I condemn violence against protesting students."

Actors Bhumi Pednekar and Ayushmann Khuranna opted for a neutral stand on the issue in their statements, posted on Twitter. Khurrana said he was "deeply disturbed" but asked the countrymen to have faith in democracy "All of us have the right to protest and exercise our fundamental freedom of expression. However, protests also cannot turn violent and lead to destruction of public property. Have faith in democracy," he added.

Pednekar said violence was not a tool to make the country better. "...What the students faced has shaken me and my heart goes out to them and I protest the way the situation was handled. However, I'm also shocked seeing how the protest turned violent," she said.

Author Chetan Bhagat tweeted, "Crashing the economy. Making jobs vanish. Shutting down Internet. Sending police in libraries. The youth may have patience, but don't test the limits of it."

Actors Richa Chadha, Sayani Gupta, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Siddharth, Aamir Bashir and Vikrant Massey and directors Anubhav Sinha, Onir and Reema Kagti were also among those who voiced support for those protesting against the Act.

Superstar Akshay Kumar found himself in a row after he accidentally liked a tweet tagging a video showing students running away from police personnel.

"Regarding the 'like' on the tweet of Jamia Milia students, it was by mistake. I was scrolling and accidentally it must have been pressed and when I realised I immediately unliked it as in no way do I support such acts," Akshay said.

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