Snowballing Protest: Controversial Citizenship Bill Draws Flak

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Activists of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) hold placards during a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. — ANI file photo

Waquar Hasan | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — After the Union Cabinet cleared the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to be tabled in Parliament, various activist groups and organisations have joined hands to hold massive protests in New Delhi as also cities across the country including Hyderabad, Lucknow, Pune and Patna.

The contentious bill okayed by the cabinet on Wednesday aims to grant citizenship to immigrants other than Muslims from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. It’s being strongly opposed from many quarters including national-level political parties on the ground that it seeks to offer citizenship on the ground of religion – as stated by home minister Amit Shah openly — which went against the basic tenets of the Constitution. The Constitution unequivocally grants equal rights to all citizens and does not allow discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, gender or race.

Several activist groups like the United Against Hate (UAH), the NRC Virodhi Morcha, the Rihai Manch, the SDPI have called for street protests against the bill. The CPI(M) has said it would hold similar protests in association with the Congress party. The UAH would hold a protest at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi at 3pm on December 7. It urged people to join the action plan to say a resounding  “no” to the two-nation theory and a firm “no” to grant of citizenship on based on religion.

Urging the people to join the protest in the defence of the Constitution, UAH’s Umar Khalid said, “The Citizenship Amendment Bill should not be seen in isolation. Its extremely dangerous implications become clear when seen along with the NRC. In short, it is nothing but a 21st Century rehashed version of the two-nation theory advanced by Veer Savarkar and Jinnah.”

The UAH also planned a twitter storm at 5pm on Thursday with the hashtag #IndiaRejectsNRC #CABAgainstConstitution. Nadeem Khan of the UAH said the organisation would geherao or hold protests at offices of secular parties who take votes from Muslims if they supported the “anti-Constitution and anti-Muslim” Citizenship bill. The citizenship bill, along with the nationwide NRC, is seen as a plot by the Modi government to create a Rohingya-like situation where millions of Myanmarese were persecuted and forced to flee their homeland, he said.

A host of activists units like the All India Progressive Women Association, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, the National Alliance of People’s Movement would hold a national convention against the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) at Ambedkar Bhavan in New Delhi from 10am to 2pm on December 8. Calling the citizenship bill and the NRC “anti-poor, communal and anti-people”, they urged the people to say “no” to attempts at making large sections of the people stateless by way of acts of religious discrimination.

Former IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan, who launched a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government over its citizenship bill and nationwide NRC, urged the people to attend the national convention on the NRC and the citizenship bill. Sharing the notices, he tweeted, “The country is coming together against the blatant attacks on its very fundamentals. Do give it your hand of support. Highly needed now. Don’t lament and cry after the last nail is hit. Don’t just post and share. Be there.”

In Hyderabad, a silent protest is being held at 3pm on December 8 at Tank Band Road. In Pune, a protest rally is being held near the district magistrate’s office at 3:30pm on December 9 by the NRC Virodhi Morcha. In Lucknow, social activists planto hold a meeting at Kaifi academy at 3pm on Sunday.  In New Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, the Khudai Khidmatgar would hold a meeting to call for a boycott of NRC and the Citizeship Bill, at Jatav Chaupar in Okhla December 12.

Ex-IAS Gopinath Kannan will address public meetings on the citizenship bill and NRC in Bihar’s Araria, Katihar, Purnea, Supaul, Mahdepura and Kishanganj on December 6, 7 and 8 respectively.

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