Chandrashekhar Azad vows to continue fight against new citizenship law

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad’s supporters during an anti-CAA protest at Jama Masjid in Old Delhi on Friday.   | Photo Credit: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad returned to the iconic Jama Masjid on Friday to a rousing welcome by hundreds of supporters, a day after walking out of the Tihar Jail on bail and hours before a deadline requiring him to leave Delhi.

Holding a copy of the Constitution and wearing his trademark blue ‘safaa’, Mr. Azad read out the Preamble to mark his protest against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

On December 20, Old Delhi witnessed high drama when the flamboyant Dalit leader dodged police to reach the mosque to participate in a planned but unauthorised protest after Friday prayers.

He was arrested the following day.

While addressing reporters, Mr. Azad launched a strong attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying when the voices of lakhs of women sitting in protest at Shaheen Bagh in the national capital has failed to reach him, “how will he listen to the people in remote areas?” He added that it would be “shameful” if he doesn’t speak up at a time when the Prime Minister is making statements asking to “identify people from their clothes”.

Reading out eminent poet Rahat Indori’s lines “...sabhi ka khoon shaamil hai yahan ki mitti mein, kisi ke baap ka Hindustan thodi hai” (this land has witnessed sacrifices from everyone/Hindustan is not anyone’s property), he criticised the religion-based criteria for the CAA. He said that in the past, the exact opposite of what Mr. Modi promised has happened, be it the creation of two crore jobs or measures to check inflation, “so when he says the law will give citizenship to people, I feel it would end up taking it away from people”. Referring to the CAA that paves the way for citizenship to people from six religious minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, he said the government is more concerned about the people from these countries, “but we will worry about our Indian people first” without any discrimination.

‘Politics plan shelved’

Asked about his plan to enter electoral politics — regarding which he announced in December — he said politics can take a back seat when a “black” law such as CAA, that threatens to damage the country, has come to the fore. The movement will continue, he said, adding that the need of the hour is to unite. He said he will not let the "people’s movement" lose momentum.

What has been labelled as an “inflammatory speech”, were merely lines he read out from the Constitution, he said. Mr. Azad urged Mr. Modi to respect the Constitution and not weaken it with controversial legislations. He also slammed the recent violence in Jamia Millia Islamia, Aligarh Muslim University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Delhi University, saying “our sisters were beaten up. In this country, women are hailed as ‘devis’[goddesses] ... Everyone saw what happened in JNU…” He added that students were the “strength” of the country.

On Tuesday, during Mr. Azad’s bail hearing, Additional Sessions Judge at the Tis Hazari courts Kamini Lau had slammed the Delhi Police for failing to produce incriminating evidence against the leader. She underlined that the right to peaceful protest was constitutional, but the police were behaving as though “Jama Masjid was in Pakistan”. She noted that people were protesting on the streets because what should have been said inside Parliament was not said.

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Printable version | Oct 28, 2020 5:58:39 AM |

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