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India-wide protests: People reject rulers' 'Brahmanical' divide and rule policy

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
Nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens (#CAA and #NRC) have reflected the mood of the nation. They categorically rejected the attempts to divide the country and create a Brahmanical theocratic state. Even when the rulers seek to pretend by bowing to the Constitution, we know what they have in mind: To polarise the nation and enjoy the fruits of 'division'.
If you listen to the tone of all the statements being made by Union home minister Amit Shah from the last general elections, it was an unambiguous message to his 'clients' that, 'rest assured', we will throw away the 'termites' from India. When NRC failed in Assam, he promised that to India.
Rather than speaking to people, he continued with his rant on anti-national, tukde tukde gang, urban Naxals, Maoists, and so on. Unfortunately, BJP's top leadership too follows the same line and does everything to declare as if the protests are the handiwork of those who are their opponents, and that a majority of Indians are happy with what has been proposed.
What started from the Jamia Millia Islamia has sparked the flame of hope all over the country. Attempts were made to 'teach' Jamia student a 'lesson'. The same predicament fell upon the Aligarh Muslim University (#AMU) students, who protested in support of their Jamia counterparts.
AMU and Jamia are two great institutions, but Hindutva forces always remain upset with them. Reasons are quite clear. Both these institutions have been built dynamic and secular leaders. These are the institutions of which Muslims are proud of. In fact, as secular Indians, we all should feel proud of their contribution to our public life.
To counter AMU, Madan Mohan Malaviya started the Banaras Hindu University (BHU). Look at the kind of 'environment' it has created: Absolutely Brahmanical, one that suits the interests of the current leadership. BHU is its role model.
It is therefore heartwarming that people from all walks of life, including university students, artists, lawyers and academics, have joined hands and stood up for the cause to protect and save our Constitution. The government has been caught by surprise as this has become a mass sataygraha all over the country. Protests took place, in some form or other, across India: Delhi, Lucknow, Patna, Chennai, Thiruvananthpuram, Mumbai, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mangalore, Ahmedabad.
The situation in Delhi was quite tough for obedient officials, as they not only imposed section 144 in many parts, but also shut down internet and SMS services till afternoon, an unprecedented step in recent years.
There have been reports of violence from Mangalore, Ahmedabad and Lucknow, which must be avoided at all costs. The democratic movement must condemn any attack on public property, as these are our resources, our properties, and ultimately hurt us.
Spontaneous movements without any high command sometimes provide spaces to all kinds of elements, who feel that hitting the public property is the 'success' story. Reports also came in from Sambhal district, where rioters burned down two buses of Uttar Pradesh Roadways, which is condemnable.
People and participants must keep a watch on such elements, and anyone trying to damage public property must be handed over to the police, as they defame the movement and provide an opportunity of high handedness to the police.
The activists at the Jantar Mantar gave roses to the police, and that was the spirit. 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 all parts of the country, but the photograph of Bangaluru police physically removing historian Ramchandra Guha, while he was giving interview to NDTV, would become 'iconic' in a sense, as it is a reminder of how the powerful people of the world are afraid of ideas.
There are indications of government toning down and explaining things about CAA and NRC, but what the government must speak up categorically is, it has no plan for NRC. As for CAA, it will be challenged in the Supreme Court.

Ramchandra Guha
Nobody would be unhappy if the government, giving citizenship to the persecuted people in our neighbourhood, isn't divisive on that count. We must ensure that, legally, our commitment remains to the secular Constitution, which our forefathers wrote so laboriously. The biggest strength of the Indian Constitution is that it united the country and made us what we are today, a proud nation of rich multicultural heritage.
The protests have given a clarion message to political parties that India's youth is not ready to face any discriminatory law, and any attempt to create divisions among us will be protested. This is very heartwarming. Indeed, all is not lost.
Political parties must take the message and listen to the youth, provide them space and work towards building a progressive, modern India on secular socialist principles in accordance with our Constitution.
The new youth has spoken out, finally: That Indian leaders can't divide us on the basis of our religious identities. The message is clear: Respect the Constitution and work comprehensively with a clear focus on economy, employment and education, and throw the divisive agenda in the greater interests of the nation.
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*Human rights defender. Source: Author's Facebook timeline 

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