Grandsons of Gandhi, Ambedkar address mammoth anti-CAA gathering in Kolkata

It was an electrifying Friday evening at the Park Circus Maidan — Kolkata’s Shaheen Bagh — as grandsons of Mahatma Gandhi and B.R. Ambedkar led speakers who addressed a mainly-Muslim gathering of thousands, urging them to keep up their fight against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.​

The atmosphere at the venue resembled that of a packed cricket stadium; the cheering crowd fell silent briefly only twice when the muezzin called from the mosque overlooking it. The speakers, for the first time, also included those who are anchoring the ongoing protests at Shaheen Bagh, including the 82-year-old Bilkis or Dadi and Sonu Warsi.​

“They murdered Bapu with three bullets, now they are out to murder India with the three bullets called CAA, NRC (National Register of Citizens) and NPR (National Population Register). That’s the only language they know, that of bullets, but we have a strong chest,” Tushar Gandhi, one of the Mahatma’s grandsons, told the gathering, referring to right-wing forces.​

“This fight is not going to end in a few days or a few months, it is going to take years. But you have to fight until (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s evil designs are defeated. You are fortunate to have a Chief Minister like Mamata Banerjee, she is your support. You must strengthen her hands because they are out to destroy her,” Mr. Gandhi said.​

Cautioning people against sharing too much personal information with government agencies, saying they were always misused by rioters, he thundered: “Next time they come asking for papers, ask them: who are you?”​

Dr. Ambedkar’s grandson Raj Ratan Ambedkar said the implementation of an NRC would not affect Muslims as much as it would the tribal population and backward classes. “Now you say the voter ID is not a sufficient proof of citizenship, but the same ID was valid when people voted for you. So if the voter ID is not valid as a proof of citizenship, then your government should also be rendered invalid,” Mr. Ambedkar said.​

The evening began with a spirited speech by Asmat Jamil, the homemaker who started the movement at the Park Circus on January 7: the prolonged protest has seen her emerge as a fiery speaker. “The other day I asked a Hindu friend, ‘You are a Hindu and so is Modi — what is the difference between the two of you?’ The friend replied: ‘I am a real Hindu, whereas Modi is a merchant of Hinduism.’ Friends, it is time we shut his shop,” Ms. Jamil said.​

She also attacked Home Minister Amit Shah. “This fight,” she declared, “is between homemakers and the Home Minister.”​

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2020 10:40:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/caa/article30946806.ece

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