100 Indian organizations unite to protest controversial Citizenship law
Mumbai, December 31, 2019 (PPI-OT): Amid continuing India-wide protests, nearly 100 organizations from across the country have decided to fight against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) as well as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR) under a single banner: We the People of India.
Yogendra Yadav, founder of Swaraj Abhiyan party, a constituent of ‘We the People of India’, addressing a press conference at the Mumbai Press Club said that the BJP-led Indian govt could only resort to using repression as a means of silencing the masses. He appealed all those protesting against the CAA, NRC, and NPR to come under a single banner – We The People of India. He said, “This is the first phrase of our Constitution and there can’t be anything bigger than that”.
The groups will be having a series of protests and demonstrations across India in January on significant days that mark the birth or death anniversaries of notable people. The series of protests will start from January 3, which is the birth anniversary of social-reformer Savitribai Phule. The groups are also planning a protest on January 8, when farmers’ groups and left-backed trade unions have also called for a Bharat Bandh. The next protest will be held on January 12, which is the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand.
Yadav stated, “On January 17, which is the day when Rohit Vemula was killed by this administration, we will celebrate social justice day. On January 14 and 15 is Sankranti, when we assimilate all people of all cultures together. On January 26, we will raise our flag at midnight and on January 30, which is the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, we will form a human chain across the country.”
Activist and author Harsh Mander said, “The government has two things on its playlist: first, to communalise the issue; they tried to do this by attacking Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, followed by the PM’s remarks on how people can be recognised by their clothes. The second is to lie and mislead the masses, which the PM is doing by saying that he and his party have not spoken about the NRC since 2014 whereas in reality, Home Minister Amit Shah has repeatedly mentioned in parliament the chronological implementation of CAA, NRC and NPR.”
He said that the national NRC is becomes even more dangerous due to the NPR, which will allow government officials to pick and choose “doubtful” citizens. “It’s a project that’s so large and so unimplementable. The ultimate objective of a CAA and NPR and NRC is to throw our Muslim brothers and sisters into a vortex of uncertainty for years and years. Your life comes to a halt and all you can think about is where can I get that document,” he said.
Noted human rights activist Teesta Setalvad said that the country had rejected the government’s plan to decide citizenship on the lines of religion. “This is a really historic moment. I haven’t seen the kind of citizen participation since the Emergency,” she said. Activist and author Harsh Mander said Senior human rights lawyer Mihir Desai said that the NPR can only be done under the NRC. “Otherwise you do a census, under the Census Act,” he said. “The undocumented in the country are worst affected. They understand the intensity of the suffering that they are going to face due to this,” Noted linguist and activist Ganesh Devy said.
Student activist Umer Khalid said, “This is a citizen-led movement…no political party has any role to play here.” He added, “Our movement is based on non-violence. Violence has only been coming from BJP-ruled states or states where BJP controls the police, like in Delhi. They want to provoke people by inciting violence and then using it to suppress and delegitimise the movement.” He further said that they will also be pressuring the state governments to bring formal and legal resolution of some sort against the NPR and NRC and they were going to give a call to boycott NPR when the process starts. He added that the NPR was linked to the NRC.
Pertinently, the controversial citizenship law makes it easier for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to get citizenship but does not offer the same concession to Muslims. Coupled with the NRC, the law has stoked fears about the marginalisation of Muslims in India. The controversial law seen as discriminatory against Muslims follows the revocation of the special status of occupied Kashmir, and a Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for the construction of a Hindu temple on the site of a mosque razed by Hindu zealots.
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