Sunday, December 15, 2019

Jantar Mantar protest: Thousands turn out to reclaim their India

Thousands of people took to the streets on Saturday and demonstrated against the recently passed Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Shinjini Ghosh

A protest meet held at Jantar Mantar saw a massive turnout with students, activists and members of the civil society demanding the withdrawal of the Act, which mandates protection of non-Muslims who fled to India to escape religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Raising questions on the provisions of the Act, Yasmin Khan, a primary school teacher from Chandni Chowk, said, “India is my country. I was born here and will hopefully die here. I will not provide any document to prove my nationality. I am as Indian as any other citizen of this nation. We should all come forth to resist this as it is not about a single community but about the nation as a whole.”

For Ishwar Nagar resident Nishat Gupta, who has had an interfaith marriage, the CAA is a “direct attack on families like hers”.

“As my name suggests, I am a Muslim married to a Hindu. With this Act getting passed, what am I supposed to teach my children? Our country believes in humanity and there cannot be any discrimination based on religion.”

Amidst slogans against the Centre, people were seen carrying placards like “Kisi ke baap ka Hindustan thodi hain?” (The country does not belong to one person only) and “We, the people of India, reject the Communal Arbitrary Betrayal (CAB).”

“Until now we had seen two kinds of critiques, one from the Northeast and the other the legitimate anxiety of the Muslim community. However, today’s protest is a reflection of how those who are not directly affected by it have come out in large numbers to raise their voices. This shows that what the government is doing is not right,” said Yogendra Yadav, national president of Swaraj India.

For 19-year-old Aanchal Goyal, being a part of the protest was important to uphold constitutional principles. “India is a secular country and the government is only a representative of the people. How can they implement something which is against the very same people?” said the second-year student of Khalsa College.

Bedashree, who hails from Assam and works in a publishing house here, said, “People who have been residing in this country for such a long time do not deserve this. It seems we have completely forgotten about what human rights are all about in this country.” Speaking at the event, activist Harsh Mandar said, “The Indian Muslim population here is Indian by choice. If someone is questioning them, that shows how the government has failed to understand the core of the country’s soul.”

Social activist Nikhil Dey said the Act is not just an unjust one but is an assault on the basic structure of the Constitution.

Sadar Bazar resident Sitara summed it up in a line. “Hindustan hum sabka hain (India includes all of us) and it will remain so.”-The Hindu

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