Solidarity marches and student movement picking up momentum across the nation against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and brutal attack on students of Jamia Milia Islamia and Aligarh University, Tamil superstar-politician Kamal Haasan addressed a press conference on Tuesday and condemned the crackdown on students protesting the citizenship law calling it a slap in the face of democracy leaving the institution in a “dangerous ICU”.

The South superstar and founder of Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) party said he fully supported young peoples’ involvement in politics and warned the government that stifling of their voices, with those of other concerned citizens, would not be tolerated. In a fiery statement, the actor-politician also lashed out at the ruling AIADMK for failing to either oppose the law or attacks on students.

Haasan’s party challenged the CAA, in the Supreme Court on Monday, and hit out at “state terrorism in Delhi, Assam, and Aligarh”, where massive student-led protests have broken out, leading to violence, attacks on students and, in the latter two, suspension of internet services.

“(The young) must understand and question politics… politics is omnipresent and affects all of us. There is nothing wrong with young people being politically aware and asking questions (but) when these questions (are) stifled, then democracy is in dangerous ICU,” Haasan said.

“Every blow on students is a blow on the freedom of expression given by democracy. It is a blow made out of fear of getting caught with no answer,” he said, adding, “This issue (referring to the protests against the new citizenship law) is beyond state borders… beyond politics and beyond parties. It is a national issue”.

“The government’s answer (to protests and questions over the law) is tear gas and assault using police when students raise questions,” Haasan declared.

Attacking the current AIADMK government of Tamil Nadu who supported the bill in the Parliament Haasan said, “They are obedient to their masters, you know who their masters are,”

The controversial new citizenship law seeks to make it easy for non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to gain Indian citizenship and has been criticised for discriminating on grounds of religion and violating Article 14 of the Constitution.

In an impassioned plea, Kamal Haasan demanded to know why the centre had sought to push the CAA through so urgently, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed by parliament and signed into law in the space of four days, which raises doubts on government’s priorities amid dipping GDP and rising unemployment and prices.