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'Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven'

It was a delight to watch the protestors defying all odds and protesting against the CAA all over the country

Tuesday January 14, 2020 9:48 AM, Syed Ali Mujtaba, ummid.com

Anti CAA and NRC Protest

[In fact the rank and file of anti CAA protesters bulging each day and in comparison to 5 lakh missed calls that the government has managed in CAA support, courtesy telecom operators, looked a pie in the sky. (Image tweeted by @MumbaiMirror)]

It’s a season of protest in India. The season began with the brave JNU students protesting against the arbitrary fee hike since October 28 – mainly over the administration's decision to hike the hostel charges mid-session with a new manual.

The students were taken aback and started protesting first in the campus and then led the protest march to Parliament and Rashtrapati Bhawan. In the process they were beaten up mercilessly by the police but defied the orders and kept on protesting. Their defiance continued till the government announced withdrawal of the fee hike and sought truce with students.

As JNU students were winding up their protests, the BJP government came with the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in the Parliament. They hurriedly passed the bill in the Parliament and made it an Act. The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) triggered protests in Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), Aligarh in UP.

The CAA allows Hindus, Christians, Parasis, Jains, Buddhists and Sikhs from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to be eligible for Indian citizenship but omitted persecuted Muslims to be included in the government’s largesse of issuing citizenship. The communal nature of the CAA denying citizenship to Muslims while granting same to others was the main reason of the protest in the Muslim dominated University campuses of Jamia Millia and AMU. The anti CAA protesters were brutally beaten up by the police forces that barged into these campuses and thrashed the students for protesting against the controversial Act. This triggered a sympathy wave among the fellow students elsewhere and a wave of protests erupted in the entire nation.

As all this was going on, some masked men entered the JNU campus and selectively picked up students belonging to left likening and brutally beat them up with iron rods and wooden sticks. This brutality on the innocent students further incensed the student’s community all over the country and there was further ground swell of mass support to anti CAA protestors.

In fact the rank and file of anti CAA protesters bulging each day and in comparison to 5 lakh missed calls that the government has managed in CAA support, courtesy telecom operators, looked a pie in the sky. It was a delight to watch the protestors defying all odds and protesting against the CAA all over the country.

Their protest was against the government to temper with the Preamble of the constitution that calls India a secular and democratic republic. The protest was all about a secular country granting citizenship to people of the other countries on the basis of their religion and denying the same to the people Islamic faith.

The protest was about government’s arrogance to be judgmental in deciding the citizen of few countries and declaring them to being persecuted minority and making law to grant them citizenship.

The protestors argued that how the government of the day has come to the conclusion that the Muslim majority countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh are persecuting their non-Muslims citizens and in Malaysia and Indonesia, which are Muslim majority countries, non-Muslim citizens are being treated well. The protestors are asking does the Parliamentary majority have given the government the power to foist its communal agenda on the secular fabric of the country.

It is apparent in a crystal clear way that India is undergoing a metamorphosis, an ideological war between two sets of people. This tussle is between a section of the society that believes in composite culture, unity in diversity and peaceful coexistence, while other section envisages a Hindu India, based on religious supremacy of Hindus and subservience of Muslims.

The way the Hindu nationalist has built their momentum since the demolition of the Babri Masjid is quite phenomenal. They are emboldened lot and have little regard for constitutionalism and want to govern the country according to their own view about Hindu nationalism.

The Hindu nationalists want to supplant the secular vision of the country with their own views and in the process monopolize the power structure of the country. Their message is quite clear that they want to see a tectonic change in the power structure and they may like to rule the country with their ideological vision of Hindu nationalism. In the process, they have built a strong support base and that was reflected in the national mandate of 2019.

It is in this scheme of things that the Citizenship Amendment Act was brought out by the BJP government. Some see its linkages with the National Citizen Register (NRC) of Assam where some 20 lakh people are going to be denied citizenship of which 16 lakh are Hindus. In order to help these Hindus, the CAA is brought in to make the Hindu migrants into Assam Indian citizen, whereas denying the same to some 4 lakh Muslims who may be sent to detention camps and forfeit their right to vote.

After the CAA, the government wants to bring in National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) for the whole country to audit the identity and citizenship status of all the Indians.

This is the real agenda of the current government and that is to turn India from a secular country to a Hindu country where only Hindus will enjoy the citizenship rights and other minorities, particularly Muslims, will be made subservient citizen to the Hindus.

These apprehensions were the main reasons of the massive protests currently seen in the country. As we are seeing there is no let-up to the protest that so far has taken more than 18 lives in the country.

The emerging situation is reminiscent of the dark days of emergency of 1975. This state brutality is horrifying. First it was Jamia, then AMU and recently now in JNU where voices of dissent are being silenced through state oppression not only by the police in uniform but also by sponsoring lumpen elements to unleash a reign of terror.

These state repressions have triggered people's protests all over the country. The social unrest has reached its crescendo as it is a fight against those who have captured power through rigged EVMs and now trying to divide the country in the name of Hindu supremacy.

The ground swell of people against the injustices that is happening in the country is indicative of the fact that they no longer want to remain fence sitter and want a participatory role in the ongoing political tussle in the country.

So the question being asked is where we go from here? Will the government roll back CAA and make truce with the protestors or continue to ride the high horse of arrogance and say ‘come what may we shall not budge'. This means the government would continue to run down the people’s sentiments and use state machinery to suppress the protestors.

In such a case, the popular surge is going to grow more and more and boil down to a cudgel between those who have the EVM majority and those who have the majority on the streets. It is an interesting situation where the rulers of the country are going ahead with their own agenda to saffronize the country, the protesters are showing defiance to it and there is no sign of truce to be seen among either side.

The buzz is that the rigged EVM majority to power is no more going to be tolerated by the people. The spar of protests has crossed the 30 days mark and has intensified instead of fading out. It seems that the street protest is a fight to finish against those who are dividing the people in the name of religion and identity.

The CAA protest is gaining new momentum each day as the noises on street is getting louder and aggressive in character. What is apparent is that it's a final count down for bringing a political change in the country.

In such season of the protest, the words of William Wordsworth come handy to sum up the mood of the country: “Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive but to be young was very Heaven.”

[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Journalist based in Chennai. He has done his masters at AMU and PhD from JNU. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com.]

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