Muslim groups call for #EqualCitizens, October 13 to be observed as ‘Resistance Day’ across India

Written by Daisy Katta | Published on: October 12, 2018
In the run-up to the 2019 elections, Muslim youths across India have given a joint call of protest gathering, under the campaign #EqualCitizens, to bring attention to the growing cases of fake encounters, lynchings, killings of human rights activists, missing names from voters list, illegal arrests against Muslims. October 13 has been marked as the day of resistance. A joint call for protest has been issued across cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Varanasi, Lucknow, Pune, Kolkata and more are set to join. The theme of the campaign is #VoteHamaraBaatHamari, which is an appeal to the government to give space to the issues faced by Muslims.

This idea came about after meeting held one month back with the growing unrest amongst students, activists, journalists, academicians and civil society groups. Speaking with, the organizers of #EqualCitizen and Founder of Association of Muslim Professionals Aamir Edresy,  said, “We don’t want the right-wing forces to set our narrative, we want to set our own narrative and agenda, the people whom we vote should know that they have to talk about our issues. We are about 20% of the population and you cannot just isolate us. This is not only an appeal to the government it is also an appeal to the community members that they should come forward and speak out. We are not asking for anything that is not in the constitution, we are only asking for our constitutional rights”.

The #EqualCitizens campaign mentioned the family of Mustaqeem who was killed on camera by UP police stating that and there was absolutely no outrage, not even from the opposition parties. Was it because they were too poor, or is the killing of Muslims in India going to be accepted as a new normal? One of the main reasons to set of this campaign is also the rising sense of distrust rising with the way Naushad and Mustakeem case was handled, also how the Najeeb case was disposed by the Delhi High Court just a few days back. Since the BJP government under Chief minister Yogi Adityanath took office in UP in March 2017, there have been thousands of police ‘encounters’ in the state, which has been continuing despite receiving criticisms from various opp, human rights organisation including the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). In a statement in February 2018, NHRC said, “The Commission noted that it has already expressed concern while taking suo motu cognizance of media reports on the November 22, 2017, about the Government of Uttar Pradesh, allegedly, endorsing killings encounters by police seeking improvement in law and order situation. The Chief Minister was quoted, in a newspaper on November 19, 2017, saying, “Criminals will be jailed or killed in encounters”.

A report on these encounter killings by the citizens’ group “Citizens Against Hate alliance’ documented such incidents in UP and Haryana, said that in Haryana most of the victims were poor backward caste Muslims engaged in cattle trade and meat supply chain.  The report also claimed that the Supreme Court and NHRC guidelines regarding encounter killing had been flouted frequently.

Speaking about the campaign, activist and former student of Aligarh Muslim University Fahad Ahmad said, “The main agenda of this protest is how should we assert the rights that have been granted to us by the constitution. This is not an anti-BJP campaign, this is a pro-constitution campaign, we are talking about the rights given to us by Dr Ambedkar which talks about the social, economic and political equality…constitutional ethos cannot be denied whatever be the political situation in the country.”

Missing names in electoral rolls
The case of missing names of Muslims in various state electoral rolls has been highlighted during the Gujarat and Karnataka assembly polls. This erasure of eligible citizens in the electoral rolls is in complete denial of Article 326 of the Indian constitution which grants all citizens of India right to exercise franchise in elections under the principles of adult franchise. Before the recent Karnataka state assembly elections, the report by the Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy, New Delhi indicated that about 20% of eligible Muslim adults were missing from the State electoral list.

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Courtesy: Two Circles