Congress, IIT students protest ‘anti-secular’ CAB, partisan politics

Outpouring of anger: Congress workers protest outside the party office in Bandra, while IIT Bombay students (right) take out a march on campus against the Citizenship Amendment Bill on Wednesday.

Outpouring of anger: Congress workers protest outside the party office in Bandra, while IIT Bombay students (right) take out a march on campus against the Citizenship Amendment Bill on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Emmanual Yogini

Bill denotes murder of democratic spirit of co-existence, say students, demand shutting of detention camps

Mumbaikars gathered in various parts of the city on Wednesday to protest the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), 2019, which was passed in both Houses of Parliament. While hundreds of protesters chanted slogans and waved banners against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in a protest organised by the Congress outside its office in Bandra, over 120 students of IIT Bombay took out a march on campus.

“The ones who run this country should be secular. India wasn’t created on the basis of religion during Partition. The Bill is part of the Centre’s agenda to marginalise the minorities and create discord among various communities,” said Mumbai Congress president Eknath Gaikwad. He said the Bill was neglecting one of the Constitution’s major clauses: Article 14, which speaks of the right to equality.

State Congress president and Minister Balasaheb Thorat, who took part in the protest, said, “Right to equality is a fundamental right mentioned in our Constitution and we expect the Central and State governments to abide by the Constitution.”

On what the Congress is planning to do regarding this Bill, Member of the Legislative Assembly Zeeshan Siddique said, “The people of this country are not happy with this Bill. The Congress will do whatever it needs to bring justice to them. We will approach Parliament and the Assembly; we will also challenge this in the Supreme Court.”

Mario da Penha, a representative of the All India Professionals’ Congress and historian, reminded the protesters of the ancient tradition of Hindu kings welcoming people from different religious backgrounds.

Congress, IIT students protest ‘anti-secular’ CAB, partisan politics

He said, “We would not have had the richness and diversity in the country today if Hindu kings had discriminated on the basis of religion. It saddens me to see that two Gujarati men are trying to reverse the long policy of tolerance and generosity.”

Asha Magad (38) from Kandivali, one of the protesters, said the Bill will trigger religious terror. Another protester, Nilofer Sayed (35), from Bandra said, “We have come to protest for our rights. We are also citizens of this country and are here to raise our voices for those communities who face atrocities under this government.” Sherbano Sheikh (42) from Bandra, said, “This is not just their (politicians’) country, it is our country as well. We have made numerous sacrifices too. We will not sit quietly and abide by every barbaric rule they impose on us.”

‘BJP’s politics of hate’

Meanwhile, the IIT Bombay students said the Bill promotes religion-based citizenship in India and construes Muslims as the ‘other Indian’. “We condemn the BJP’s hate and partisan politics that threatens to push the nation to a polarised abyss and murder our democratic spirit to co-exist with all communities, irrespective of categories. We stand in solidarity with all the peaceful democratic struggles of the people in the Northeast and other places in resisting the communal CAB and urge them to refrain from violence,” said a student who did not wish to be named.

The students demanded that the government withdraw the ‘anti-secular Bill’ and renounce all plans to conduct citizenship registries across India. Another protester said, “We demand cancellation of the National Register of Citizens and National Population Register. We demand the shutting of detention camps.”

On the Northeast, where protests on the Bill have broken out, a student said, “Elaborate histories of ethnic politics of the region clearly suggest that it is not going to be easy and violence-free. Further, any messy application process like the one conducted in Assam may take years, consume huge public money and increase administrative corruption before reaching finality.”

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 5:13:17 AM |

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