The nation-wide protests against #CAA and #NRC have reflected the mood of the people, who have categorically rejected the attempt to divide this country and create a Brahmanical theocratic state. Even while present-day rulers make a pretence of bowing to the Constitution, we know that their end game is to polarise the nation and enjoy the fruits of 'division'.
If you listen to the tone (and content) of all the statements made by India’s home minister, Amit Shah,during the campaigning for the last general elections, there was an unambiguous message to his 'clients': 'rest assured' we will throw out the 'termites' from India. When the NRC failed in Assam, he then promised it to the rest of India. Rather than speaking to people, he continued with his rants, using hate-driven terms like “anti-national”, “tukde tukde gang”, “urban naxals”, “Maoists” and so on. Unfortunately, the BJP's top leadership is, today, toeing the same line when it declares that the present day protests are the handiwork of their opponents, while a majority of Indians are happy with both CAA and an all-India NPR-NRC.
What started from #Jamia has sparked a flame of hope all over the country. Attempts were made to 'teach' Jamia students a 'lesson' and later, when #AMU students too protested in support of their Jamia counterparts, both were sought to be stigmatized. Both AMU and Jamia are two great institutions but the Hindutva forces have seen in them a target. The reasons are quiet clear. Both these institutions have built up a dynamic and secular leadership. They are definitely institutions that Muslims are and should be proud of but,not just Muslims, all of us secular Indians should also be proud of. Look at their enormous contribution to our public life. To counter AMU, Madan Mohan Malaviya established BHU i.e the Banaras Hindu University and look at what kind of an 'environment' it has created! Absolutely Brahmanical, but then, this suits their interests best and for India’s current leadership, this is the role model.
It is, therefore, heart-warming that people from all walks of life, Universities, students, artists, lawyers, academics have joined hands and stood up for the cause to protect and save our Constitution. The government appears to have been caught by surprise, as this has now become a mass satyagraha all over the country. From Lucknow, Patna, Chennai and Thiruvananthpuram to Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. The situation in Delhi was tough as the police, directly under the Centre, not only imposed section 144 in many parts but also shut the internet and the SMS services till the afternoon, an unprecedented step in recent years.
There are reports of violence from Mangalore and Lucknow city, which must be avoided at all cost. The democratic movement must condemn any attack on public property as they are our resources, our properties and such attacks, ultimately, hurt us. Spontaneous movements, without any high command, sometimes provide these spaces to all kinds of elements, who still feel that hitting the public property is a 'success' story. Reports also came in from Sambhal district, where “rioters” burnt two buses of the UP Roadways, which is condemnable. People and participants must keep a watch on such elements and anyone who tries to damage public property must be handed over to the police, as they defame the movement and provide an opportunity to the police for high-handedness.
The activists at Jantar Mantar gave roses to the policemen and, herein, lies the spirit behind these protests. Delhi police also offered snacks to many and, perhaps, realised that this is India's moment of reckoning. Most of the protests remained peaceful in different parts of the country but the visual of Bangalore police physically removing Ramchandra Guha, while he was giving an interview to NDTV, would become 'iconic' in the sense that it is a reminder of how the powerful people of the world are afraid of ideas.
There are indications of the government toning down its rhetoric. It is putting out “explainers” on CAA and NRC. What is needed, however, is a categorical reassurance that CAA will be repealed and NPR-NRC will not be launched. The CAA has also been challenged in the Supreme Court. Nobody is unhappy if the government gives citizenship to persecuted people in our neighbourhood, but then don’t be divisive on that, have a large heart. After all, the power to give citizenship still remains with the state and nobody would get it unless the government wants it. Yet, at least in law, we must ensure that our commitment remains to the secular Constitution of India, which our forefathers built up so laboriously. The biggest power of the Indian Constitution is that it united the country and made us what we are today, a proud nation of rich multicultural heritage.
These protests have given a clarion call to the political parties that India's youth is not ready to face any discriminatory law and attempts to create divisions among us will be protested. This is very heart-warming, that all is not lost, and political parties must heed to the message, listen to the youth, provide them space in their parties and build a progressive, modern India on secular, socialist principles that our Constitution provides us. The younger generation is aspirational and has spoken well that Indian leaders cannot divide us because of our religious identities. The message is clear - respect the Constitution and work comprehensively on the national agenda, focus on economy, employment and education and please discard your divisive agenda in the greater interest of the nation.
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