Voices against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act – II
A round-up of the voices and issues raised against the CAA
December 25, 2019
● Deborah Grey, writing for Sabrang, presents a reckoner of India’s student protests between December 12 and 21, taking in Delhi, Aligarh, Banaras, Lucknow, Kolkata, Guwahati, Tezpur, Dibrugarh, Itanagar, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Puducherry (where students decided to boycott the convocation to be presided over by President Kovind). Update yourself here.
● On December 23, Rabiha Abdurehim, a gold medallist from the department of mass communication was told to leave the convocation at Puducherry University when she refused to accept her medal and certificate, in solidarity with students countrywide. Read the Sabrang report.
● The BJP’s response to setbacks grows more mannered and predictable. Addressing an electoral rally at Dumka (December 12), Modi had said that anti-CAA protesters could be known by their clothes. The following week, as Newsclick reveals here, a BJP worker and his friends, dressed in skullcaps and lungis were caught throwing stones at a train in Murshidabad, Bengal. Sabrang India analyses the doctoring of information, the bluffs, ruses and red herrings that have been introduced into the news cycle over the past week, from uncovering assassination plots against Modi, to Bipin Rawat’s statement anticipating an escalation of tensions along the border. Readthe report here.
● On December 17, Bheem Army chief, Chandrashekhar Azad, and Supreme Court lawyer, Mahmood Paracha, addressed journalists at the Press Club of India. They warned of the sinister undertow of the NRC, its implications for the voters’ list, property rights, passport ownership, forest and community rights,reservations,the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities — indeed, all those who had never achievedequal citizenship in the first place. Citing the experience of Assam, where bribery and administrative corruption compounded the misery of applicants, they declared their intentiontohold a public protest against the CAA on December 20, at Maulana Azad’s grave outside Delhi’s Jama Masjid. “If you turn over the soil of this country you will see the blood that Muslims have shed for its freedom; it’s the Sanghis whose blood you won’t find there,” said Chandrashekhar Azad. Watch the press conference here.
On December 20, Azad was arrested at the steps of the Jama Masjid. View the Bheem Army video of him and the gathered crowd chanting Bismil Azimabadi’s lines, sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab hamaare dil mein hai. Azad has been remanded to fourteen days in judicial custody.
● Writing for Sabrang (December 23), Priyanka Kavish explains the grim outlook for India’s unorganisedlabour force as the NRC process gets underway. Comprising some 400 million workers, with a predominance of SC, ST, and OBC individuals, and Muslims making up some 39 million of the total, these are overwhelmingly people who lack documents as they have traditionally been excluded from education and property rights. Invisible in this count are women — 95 per cent of whom are informal sector workers — and who are still less accounted for in terms of official papers. Among Muslims, the participation of women in economic activity is lower than in other communities, Muslim women forming a mere 2.6 million of the community’s 39 million-strong workforce.Kavish cites a Deccan Herald report on how women are still struggling to get enrolled in Aadhaar because it requires more than one proof of address. These are the people who are now being asked to furnish multiple documents of identity and residence.
For a video of the massive march against the NRC on December 22, at Dharavi, Mumbai, click here.
● Bahujan TV has carried snippets of a range of citizen’s voices in protest against the CAA. Watch as a twenty-two-year-old student of mass communication from Jamia takes apartModi’s statements from his mega rally at Delhi on Sunday (December 22). “He says he’s not taking away citizenship but giving it to us. Did we ever ask him for it?” Speaking to the same crowd atJantarMantar, Umar Khalid said , “We have Modi and Amit Shah to thank for uniting us today against them. They have dissolved our mutual differences and disagreements, because we are here not to save Muslims or Assam, but the foundational values of our country.”
● Satirists and performers of stand-up comedy have been among the sharpest political observers of these past few years. On December 19 Samdish Bhatia of Scoop Whoop went to the Red Fort, Mandi House and Jantar Mantar. People who were there may recognise the mood of the day in his video, the troughs of waiting and directionless activity broken now and then by busloads of slogan-yelling detainees being driven away. Also possibly familiar to you: the knowing smirk on the face of the policeman interviewed by Bhatia and the fetching pair of baby-pink earmuffs in which the intrepid reporter covers his beat. Worth watching for an interview with the charismatic Amir Aziz, student at Jamia, and another with a lady who confides to Bhatia, “It’s useless for Amit Shah and Modi to tell us there’s nothing to be frightened of. Arré bhai, it’s you we find frightening.” View here.
Watch also, Sanjay Rajoura and Varun Grover on Newsclick (December 20), as they consider Chetan Bhagat’s latest stance vis-à-vis the Modi government, the conspicuous absence of “secular” parties from shows of solidarity with the Jamia students, the relish with which Modi and Shah explain how the higher the mud rises the better for their lotus, and Rajoura admits he may not have all the documents to prove he is an Indian. The full video may be seen here. On the question of documents, Arundhati Roy explains to Newslaundry (December 19) how fortunate Modi is that none of his will be checked for the NRIC, given that he has declared himself married in one affidavit, unmarried in another, his date of birth cannot be asserted withany assurance, and no one knows the whereabouts of his degree.
● On December 21, Varun Grover released a protest chant in verse on his Twitter account: Tum aasu gas uchhaaloge, tum zeher ki chai ubaaloge/ hum pyaar ki shakkar ghol ke iss ko gut-gut-gut pee jayenge/ hum kaaghaz nahin dikhaayenge, hum kaaghaz nahin dikhaayenge. For the entire poem, click here.
● Also on December 21, Sabrang reported that the gazette notification concerning the National Population Register has gone missing from the central government’s official websites, whether that ofthecensus authority or the ministry of home affairs. Now, when the government has declared its willingness to discuss the terms of the NRC process with civil society, the sudden disappearance of a key document from public view is odd. The concealment was systematic, Sabrang reveals, as the document was eventually found on the neglected website of Dadra and Nagar Haveli which still uses the old domain name of nic.in, instead of the new gov.in to which all other government accounts have migrated. Read the report and view the document here. Also missing, from the BJP’s Twitter account, is Amit Shah’s November assertion that the NRC would be implemented across the country. As this Sabrang report shows, Shah has used the threat of the NRC as it suited him, first to accuse Mamata Banerjee of scare mongering with the Gorkhas, and later with all Bengalis. He has now begun distancing himself from the NRC implementation that he was only too happy to own earlier, lately insisting these are matters for the entire cabinet to decide, not him alone.
● Speaking of unsolved mysteries, at his December 22 rally in Delhi, Modi said, “I want to assure the 130 crore people of India that my government has never once discussed the term NRC since we came to power in 2014. Not a word. Only when the Supreme Court compelled us to take up this exercise for Assam did we get involved.” But, on April 23 this year, Amit Shah had said on video, “After the CAB comes the NRC, and not just for Bengal. It will be brought to the entire country” — a point he repeated on the floor of the RajyaSabha on November 21. Either the PM or his home minister has been lying to the country. Which one is it? And why is he still in office, asks the Karwan e Mohabbat in this video. (Incidentally, President Kovind had also mentioned the NRC in his June 20 speech to the newly constituted seventeenth Lok Sabha: “Illegal infiltrators pose a major threat to our national security. This is leading to social imbalance in many parts of the country…. My government has decided to implement the process of National Register of Citizens on priority basis in areas affected by infiltration.”)
● The Polit Bureau of the CPI-M issued a statement (December 23) calling Modi’s Delhi speech “a bundle of untruths”. That’s a charitable way of putting it, since untruths need not be intentionally misleading while lies always are. The statement goes on to nail lie after lie from his speech. Read the statement here.
● The Citizen Bureau reports in Newsclick (December 23) on the violence directed at protesters, particularly in Muslim neighbourhoods,by the Adityanath government of UP. While the Internet shutdown continues it is impossible to ascertain how many people have died there,but the number is sure to be higher than the official count. Video evidence has emerged of extraordinary police brutality, vandalising houses, breaking cars, and, in one authenticated story, of a thirty-member force breaking into the house of an octogenarian couple (the man a former civil servant), abusing their nurse and damaging the property before withdrawing. Read the report.
● Texas, scene of the Howdy Modi event in September, hosted a gathering of the Indian American Muslim Council on December 19. They issued a statement condemning “India’s major step backwards to officially marginalise India’s Muslims”. For a detailed report on their statement and the protests planned in the US, click here.
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