This is the beauty of a democracy that when people’s voice is not responded, they give their voice to each other and establish togetherness. What India has witnessed, from the college and university campuses to the buzzing streets, for the last one month is unparalleled in Indian history. The ongoing protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and NRC continue to grow despite the TRP-hungry media focused a lot on shifting it to a mere communal issue. The sheer diversity of the ways in which people are expressing themselves against the government’s divisive policies is an evident proof that they are united and very serious for their fundamental and constitutional values.
The anti-CAA movement is being believed the largest after the India Against Corruption movement (IAC), but while the focus of IAC was too narrow, the ongoing protests are about the renewal of the promise of India to its people. The most attractive aspect in these protests is the sight of the preamble of the constitution of India. The Constitution is at the tip of every participant’s tongue in this movement which is a good sign for the future of the country that people are struggling against the coercive powers to secure freedom, equality, justice and fraternity.
This movement has two very distinct features: The youth mainly students, cutting off their all religious boundaries and social backgrounds, are performing a vital role for a society – always trapped in its divisive politics – and considering their responsibilities for each other. The second feature is that, in spite of all efforts to make this movement communal one, the efforts to persuade others to join the movement have met with a great success. This is the reason that the Central Government has stepped back for now on the NRC exercise clearly in response to civil protests that have shown no signs of giving over instead growing bigger and wider all across the country and taking a shape of people’s movement covering large swathes of urban India.
The brutal crackdown of Delhi police at JMI students also contributed much to these protests that set off a cascading reaction beyond anyone’s expectation and certainly beyond the control of a government that arrogantly believed that the people acquiesce in its every unjust decision.
The most beautiful angle of this movement is that people themselves have taken the lead for this protests as they usually wait for the leadership in other matters. But in this movement whether in college assemblies or in the protest marches they raised their voice themselves loud enough to be heard above the din of the city as in the case of Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, simply assembling to show off their strength.
This can be said just an irony for the BJP. All these years BJP and its right wings-allies had used the flag as a weapon against Muslims and secular Indians. The BJP volunteers took out tiranga yatras ostensibly to instill feelings of pride in the country but in actual fact to taunt Muslims and liberal Indians.
But to utter surprise to the Narendra Modi government, four years later, his government has been rendered speechless by the sight of thousands of flags flying in all corners of India. The BJP sued the flag as a threat, as an instrument of coercion, as a test of loyalty for alleged ‘anti-national’, and finally as a symbol of the PM’s New India.
Shaheen Bagh has become the hallmark for this movement. The women come here, day and night in a make-shift pandal waving the tricolor and energetically singing along patriotic songs. The flag can be seen imprinted on the cheeks of little children as also on the wrists of their mothers. Many of them here are not so educated but still they are fighting for what is at stake.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)