Anti-CAA stir to continue in Kolkata on March 22

Women at the Park Circus Maidan protest. Photo: Special Arrangement.  

Many of the protesters staging demonstrations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in the parks and streets of Kolkata said they intend to continue on Sunday, although Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a “janata curfew”.

The organisers of one demonstration said that they would “clear the area” to observe the curfew, but the rest said that the protest would continue. Some have said that they would continue in shifts, while maintaining social distance.

In Nawab Ali Park in Ekbalpore area of west Kolkata, the demonstrators said that they will “suspend” the mass gathering. “Since the Prime Minister himself has requested us to observe a curfew for a limited period of time over possible health risks, I think we will suspend the mass gathering temporarily. But the movement will continue till our demands are met,” said Md Shafi Abedin, one of the organisers in Nawab Ali Park.

In Park Circus Maidan, termed as Kolkata’s Shaheen Bagh, where the crowd is usually in the thousands, the numbers have started plummeting ever since news broke of patients infected by the virus in the State. The protesters said that “precaution and resistance should go hand in hand”.

“If the momentum of this movement breaks, people like me who have fought for so long, making many personal sacrifices, will also crumble. [So] we will sit on a rotational basis, rather than calling it off [on Sunday],” said Nausheen Baba Khan, a Ph.D. scholar at Rabindra Bharati University. Ms. Khan, who is also one of the organisers, said they have decided to maintain social distance between protesters.

“With changing times, our approach will change too,” she said.

Protesters of Raja Bazaar, in north Kolkata and Zakaria Street in central Kolkata, spoke on similar lines.

“We will take every precaution, maybe we will do something entirely different but the sit-in will continue,” said Md Jawed Alam an organiser in Raja Bazaar. He feels the Prime Minister’s call to shut down the country on a Sunday is to “showcase that people are with him but it doesn’t have any relationship with the spread or containment of the disease because [most] people are anyway in their homes on Sunday”.

Meanwhile, a section of the civil society, strongly advocated the withdrawal of anti-CAA and anti-NRC protests, in order to contain the spread of the virus. “The movement has achieved a part-victory and should be put on hold for now for safety,” wrote a prominent Left party member. The post was criticised on social media platforms. Meanwhile, the West Bengal government has advised against major public gatherings. However, no notice has been issued to the protesters to vacate the premises as yet.

(The writer is an intern with The Hindu)

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 7:21:26 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/anti-caa-stir-to-continue-in-kolkata-on-march-22/article31123977.ece

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