ANANYA SINGH | 16 DECEMBER, 2019
Citizens’ Protests Against CAA Continue, BJP Allies Shaky
Big turn out in Bengaluru
NEW DELHI: Citizens’ protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) continued over the weekend. In the largest gathering so far in Bengaluru, a crowd of protesters congregated at the Town Hall on Sunday evening, waving both the Karnataka state flag and the tricolour while raising placards that read, “Stop Attack on the Indian Constitution. #Against CAA.”
The protest was attended and addressed by historian Ramachandra Guha, Congress MP Rajeev Gowda, Karnataka MLA from Jayanagara Sowmya Reddy and Siasat Daily Editor Amer Ali Khan among others.
Protest in Bangalore (Images from Twitter)
Guha stressed the “principles of diversity” that the country was built upon in his address, stating, “This country was founded on the principles of diversity. But the people who rule us in Delhi now want to impose one language and one religion on each one of us. But we will resist this. We don’t want one language and one religion, but we want democracy and pluralism.”
MP Rajeev Gowda, calling the Citizenship Amendment Act a “black” bill, also addressed the gathering, “I have come from Delhi with a heavy heart. I wanted to move amendments that would have annulled all the negative aspects of it. But the people in the last election has elected a party with majority and managed to push this ‘black’ Bill in both Houses of Parliament. But that does not mean we stop the fight.”
He later tweeted, “We have another freedom movement to take part in. To free India from the real 'tukde tukde' gang dividing Indians on the basis of identity.” Gowda further urged the crowd at the protest to “join the struggle to save the soul of our country.”
MLA Sowmya Reddy, while speaking at the demonstration stated, "A revolution has begun! We will not let India's diversity die. Thanks to all the organisers. Wake up." Gauri Lankesh’s sister Kavitha Lankesh also addressed the gathering.
The large demonstration was preceded by smaller protests across the city as well as in other parts of Karnataka. On Friday, thousands of Muslims were reported to have presented a memoranda on CAA to government officials. They staged a protest against CAA post Friday prayers.
Hundreds of individuals from Northeastern states residing in Bengaluru also demonstrated at the Town Hall on Saturday.
Protest in Bangalore held on Sunday evening
While the Bengaluru protest remained a peaceful one, held in police presence, demonstrations in various other parts of the country have turned exceedingly violent. Internet services remain suspended in various parts of West Bengal—Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Howrah, North 24 Parganas and parts of South 24 Parganas—due to spreading violence. Road and railways continue to be blockaded, as per reports.
Chief Minister Mamata Bannerjee is said to be organising multiple rallies in the state, starting today, that are to continue for the next three days. Bannerjee held an emergency meeting on Sunday night with senior officials of the state administration and police forces, directing them to remain on high-alert due to mounting instances of violence in the state.
Internet services have been suspended in six districts of Uttar Pradesh as well, including Aligarh, Varanasi, Meerut and Saharanpur.
Protests against CAA continued in Bihar as well. A public gathering, to be addressed by Kanhaiya Kumar, former president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) is scheduled for today. The meeting will also be addressed by leaders from Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal and various Left-aligned parties.
While police action against protesters makes headlines, curfew was eased in Guwahati and Dibrugarh districts from 6 am to 9 pm today post protests that had brought various areas of the North East to a standstill. With two more protesters succumbing to their injuries, the death toll in Assam is reported to have risen to five.
Meanwhile, BJP allies seem to be in two minds. Janata Dal-United (JD(U)) remains divided on the issue of CAA. JD(U)’s national vice-president Prashant Kishore expressed his disappointment over his party supporting the Bill through his tweet, “Disappointed to see JDU supporting CAB that discriminates right of citizenship on the basis of religion. It's incongruous with the party's constitution that carries the word secular thrice on the very first page and the leadership that is supposedly guided by Gandhian ideals.”
A day before JD(U) supported the Bill in Lok Sabha, three senior party members were reported to have come forward to urge Nitish Kumar to reconsider the party’s stand on the controversial Bill in Rajya Sabha. JD(U) nonetheless voted for the Bill to be made into an Act.
Kishore had earlier tweeted, “While supporting the CAB, the JDU leadership should spare a moment for all those who reposed their faith and trust in it in 2015. We must not forget that but for the victory of 2015, the party and its managers wouldn’t have been left with much to cut any deal with anyone.”
While erstwhile NDA ally Shiv Sena voted for the Bill in the Lok Sabha, they backed out of doing so in the Rajya Sabha.
BJP ally, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), though having voted in support of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Rajya Sabha, stated on Sunday that they would move the Supreme Court against the Bill. “We will not allow the CAB to be implemented in Assam. We will approach the SC against CAB,” senior AGP leader Ramendra Kalita told The Indian Express.
As per reports, Assamese actor-turned-politician Jatin Bora resigned from the BJP in protest against the CAA. Addressing a meeting called by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) at Latasil Playground, Bora is said to have stated, “I will be with the people of the State who don’t accept the CAB. I thought the Centre would take a decision on the cancellation of CAB on Wednesday. However, instead of taking any such decision, the government passed the anti-Assam Bill. To be with the people of the State, I’ve resigned from the BJP.”