Skip to main content

Women, students lead anti-CAA protests to 'reclaim' Indian Republic in 70th year

By Nachiketa Desai*
Seventy years after the people of India gave themselves a sovereign, socialist, secular and democratic republic, the youth from university campuses and women in towns across the country are up in arms to reclaim the republic from a fascist regime out to impose a Hindu nation.
Waving the national flag and taking oath to save the Indian Constitution, the youth and women are raising the war cry of ‘Azadi’ (liberation) from hunger, poverty, unemployment, oppressive patriarchy and divisive bigoted communal politics.
There is no single leader of this Azadi movement, no Mahatma Gandhi-like iconic figure who had liberated the country from the British rule through nonviolent direct action called satyagraha.
Each young man and woman of this second freedom struggle is guided by the preamble of the Indian Constitution which promises liberty, equality and justice to every citizen irrespective of their caste, creed, colour and gender.
The actions and statements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues, BJP leaders and the rank and file of the Sangh parivar have given the saviours of the Constitution reasons to fear that those in power in Delhi are hell bent on replacing the secular, socialist democracy with Hindu nation based on Manusmriti, the ancient codebook based on Brahminical socio-political order.
Events and developments since Modi returned to power for a second term, this time with a whopping majority of the BJP in the Lok Sabha, had given sufficient reasons to suspect the intent of the ruling party of subjugating the various constitutional institutions including the judiciary, the executive and even media, the fourth estate.
The last straw on the proverbial camel’s back came when the Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill and it became an Act (CAA).
CAA became the first instance of religion being overtly used as a criterion for citizenship under the Indian nationality law. The CAA paves the way to grant Indian citizenship to members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian religious minorities who fled persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 2014. 
However, Muslims have been excluded conspicuously. So have been the refugees from Sri Lanka and Myanmar and the tribals from Bangladesh who do not follow any of the mainstream religions listed in CAA.
Obviously the amended citizenship law was brought in after the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam found as many as 1.4 million Hindus of the total 1.8 million people as non-Indians who, if denied Indian citizenship, would defeat the BJP’s declared goal of weeding out each and every ‘infiltrator.’ Now, the Modi government says all Hindu refugees would be given Indian citizenship under CAA.
The students and faculty of the Jamila Millia Islamia first saw through the BJP’s game plan of targeting Muslims to mobilize the Hindu votes in its favour through the CAA. They took to streets in protest. The government launched a violent attack on the campus with the police thrashing students and teachers and destroying the library and other university property.
The government assault on the Jamia Millia university stung the sentiments of students and teachers of scores of other universities and institutions all across the country. Thousands of them turned up at peaceful protest demonstrations. 
Top functionaries of Gandhian institutions have maintained a conspicuous silence, maintaining safe distance with anti-CAA movements
Adding salt to the wounded sentiments of the academic community was the ‘surgical strike’ by the masked armed goons on the campus of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in which several students and faculty members were grievously injured.
Campuses all across the country rose in protest against the Modi regime. From Aligarh Muslim University and Banaras Hindu University to Jadavpur University, Allahabad University to the premier Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management, students and their teachers took to streets holding peaceful protest demonstrations. These were all spontaneous. There was no call from any political party or leader.
The government unleashed police on the protesting youth, beating them up with brute force. The worst police action was in Uttar Pradesh where chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s men in uniform went on a rampage, plundering shops and homes of Muslims, physically assaulting minor boys after dragging them out of Madarsas.
Sedition cases and other serious charges including attempt to murder, arson and the use of explosives were slapped on peaceful protesters across many cities including the state capital Lucknow.
Instead of silencing the protests by the use of brute force, the nonviolent movement against the government gathered momentum with women coming out in large numbers to sit on day and night dharna in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Lucknow, Patna and scores of other cities across the country.
People foiled the BJP’s attempt to create communal divide on the issue of new citizenship law and its associated steps of National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) by forging unity among Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Sikh communities whose members took part in all the protests.
The movement against CAA, NPR, NRC, in fact helped in bringing together Muslims and Hindus, Dalits, Adivasis and Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in joint action programmes. For the first time after the post-Godhra state-sponsored anti-muslim pogrom of 2002, Muslims dared to join the protests against the BJP’s communal politics.
While the anti-CAA, NPR, NRC protests in cities have found space in print and TV media, those held in towns away from metros and state capitals have gone unreported, though many of them, like the three-day convention of Adivasis, Dalits and Muslims in Palgarh, Maharashtra or in Gulbarga in Karnataka were attended by thousands of people.
Though all the ‘Save the Constitution’ movements across the country have been completely peaceful, top functionaries of institutions proclaiming themselves to be followers of Mahatma Gandhi have maintained a conspicuous silence, some of them even maintaining safe distance with these movements.
A redeeming feature, however, is the open support the movement has received from some celebrities of the film, theatre, art, culture, science and academics world.
Creative artistes have come up with songs, slogans, skits, standup comedy shows, cartoons and posters extolling the ‘Azadi’ movement for reclaiming our secular, socialist and democratic republic and exposing the diabolical game of the Sangh Parivar and the Modi government to impose a Hindu Nation.
---
*Senior Ahmedabad-based journalist, grandson of Mahadev Desai, Mahatma Gandhi’s personal secretary

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Labelling a Jesuit a Marxist? It's like saying if you use a plane, you become American

Jesuits: Cedric Prakash, Stan Swamy By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* A thirteen- fourteen-year-old has many dreams! That's an impressionable age; at the cusp of finishing school. It is also a time when one tastes a different kind of freedom: to go for camps with boys of your own age (not with ones family). Such camps and outings were always enjoyed to the hilt. The ones, however, which still remain etched in my memory are the mission camps to the Jesuit missions in Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Did Modi promote Dholavira, a UNESCO site now, as Gujarat CM? Facts don't tally

By Rajiv Shah  As would generally happen, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tweet – that not only was he “absolutely delighted” with the news of UNESCO tag to Dholavira, but he “ first visited ” the site during his “student days and was mesmerised by the place” – is being doubted by his detractors. None of the two tweets, strangely, even recalls once that it’s a Harappan site in Gujarat.

Giant conglomerates 'favoured': Whither tribal rights for jal-jungle-jameen?

Prafull Samantara By Mohammad Irshad Ansari*  The struggle for “Jal, Jungle and Jameen” has been a long-drawn battle for the tribal communities of India. This tussle was once again in the limelight with the proposed diamond mining in the Buxwaha forest of Chhatarpur (Madhya Pradesh). The only difference in this movement was the massive social media support it gained, which actually seems to tilt the scale for the tribal people in a long time.

If not Modi, then who? Why? I (an ordinary citizen) am there! Main hoon naa!

By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  The number of women ministers is doubled in early July from the first term after cabinet reshuffle by the present government led by Narendra Modi. While there were 06 women ministers in the previous term, this term there are 11. The previous two governments led by Dr Manmohan Singh had 10 women ministers in each tenure. Are these number of women ministers something to rejoice in the near 75 years of independence? Yes maybe, if we think that things are slowly improving in the patriarchal system. This change is less likely to achieve gender balance in the parliament otherwise we require more than 11 as per the 33% reservation . This change is also less likely because the men politicians’ inability to handle the country’s mess is becoming more and more evident and especially during the corona crisis. Seems, the addition of more women ministers may be a result of the recent assembly elections where women played a decisive role in the election results. For example

Tussle between Modi-led BJP govt, Young India 'key to political battle': NAPM

Counterview Desk  In its month-long campaign, civil rights network National Alliance for People’s Movements (NAPM) carried out what it called Young People's Political Persecution and Resistance in “solidarity with all comrades facing political persecution and remembering human rights defender Stan Swamy…”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Gujarat govt gender insensitive? Cyclone package for fisherfolk 'ignores' poor women

By Our Representative A memorandum submitted to the Gujarat government by various fisherfolk associations of the Saurashtra region of Gujarat under the leadership of Ahmedabad NGO Centre for Social Justice's senior activist Arvind Khuman, who is based in Amreli, has suggested that the relief package offered to the fishermen affected by the Tauktae cyclone is not only inadequate, it is also gender insensitive.

Debt bondage, forced labour, sexual abuse in Gujarat's Bt cottonseed farms: Dutch study

By Rajiv Shah  A just-released study, sponsored by a Netherlands-based non-profit, Arisa , “Seeds of Oppression Wage sharecropping in Bt cottonseed production in Gujarat, India”, has said that a new form of bondage, or forced labour, exists in North India’s Bt cottonseed farms, in which bhagiyas, or wage sharecroppers, are employed against advances and are then often required to work for years together “without regular payment of wages.”

Covid: We failed to stop religious, political events, admits Modi-dharmacharya meet

Counterview Desk An email alert sent by one the 11 participants, Prof Salim Engineer, on behalf of the Dharmik Jan Morcha regarding their "religious leaders' online meet" with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, even as offering "support to meet challenges of Corona pandemic", blames religious congregations, though without naming the Maha Kumbh and other religious events, which apparently were instrumental in the spread of the second wave.