News coming in each day give a picture of the country-wide protests that started a few days ago against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAA) and the declared National Register of Citizens. That the speech by prime minister at Ramlila Maindan, which ran counter to several established facts, has not succeeded in misleading the people, is proven by the protests continuing with renewed vigour as well as the voices of dissent from within BJP.
Attempts to suppress the march of resistance of students by shutting down colleges and hostels, have so far been unsuccessful. What is behind this virulent agitation, which has by now commanded international attention, is the commitment of the people to the constitution of the country and its principles, and the determination not to brook any threats to the constitution by whomsover it is raised.
Although the Hindutva government had earlier made several controversial legislations, consequential popular resistance against them were conspicuously absent. Even when the identity and existence of the state of Jammu-Kashmir were snatched with repressive military deployment, India did not rattle. It would not be incorrect to judge that, it was the confidence given by such passive response to the Modi-Amit Shah team and made them bold and defiant to raise a threat to the citizenship of the country's largest minority. But this time things have terribly gone wrong for them. The country is watching the picture of a people, regardless of caste-religious-community distinctions who sensed that this would strip the constitution of its secular characteristic, and came out united to nip that nefarious move in the bud. A wide cross-section of people – which includes university students, artists, the differently abled, social activists, human rights groups and political and religious organisations in unison – filled the streets with voices rejecting the move for denying citizenship to refugees from a particular community, and taking steps expel to a section of the population who have been residing in the country for decades.
Given this situation, those who stab from behind this united secular, democratic resistance movement or to sabotage this unity, or sink this in absurd squabbling, cannot be called real patriots or humanitarians. This popular stir was not born in the brains of any particular party or collective. On the contrary, university students who represent the future of the country, both male and female, forgot all their differences, crossed the walls of the campus against NAA and NRC, and filled the common space with the strike, defying the police rampage. This was joined by political parties, religious bodies and artistic collectives.
Secular India will become history, if one turns blind to the hidden moves of extremist Hindutva, which is out to divide the society vertically on the basis of religion. It was this conviction that acted as the driver for all these forces to join the popular stir. If each of the component of the stir loses sight of key feature of the agitation, and attempts to make capital out of it, its consequences will be grave and lead to irrecoverable loss. This is being mentioned here in the background of the murmurs about Kerala's ruling front (LDF) and the Opposition (UDF) coming together on an anti-CAA platform. Be the forms and methods of protests different, peaceful strikes and agitations from any quarter need not be objected to. And there may be situations warranting protests separately or together. But raising allegations and counter-allegations over it will only gladden those seeking to see their defeat.
The concerns and apprehensions of the community likely to be affected by citizenship laws and registrations, are quite understandable. At the same time while participating in common protests, if they hold separate protests by rallies or in other forms, peacefully and without causing provocation, that is not to be blamed. If any quarters, prompted by purely political motives, make an attempt to identify and isolate some sections among such protesting collectives, that will only make sangh parivar happy. The response from the latter section in a 'Didn't I tell you so?' tone being expressed through their organs, is not to be lost sight of. In the current scenario, the narrative from responsible leaderships about 'Maoist, Islamic extremist, RSS' axis is not only incongruous, but it will also help strengthen the real divisive forces.