Message From Residents Of A Nation…
“The greatest gift for an individual or a nation, so we had been told in our ancient books, was ‘abhaya’ (fearlessness), not merely bodily courage but the absence of fear from the mind… It was against this all-pervading fear that Gandhi’s quiet and determined voice was raised: Be not afraid.” – Jawaharlal Nehru (The Discovery of India)
At long last, Mother India has opened the door to her heart… millions of people took to the streets almost everywhere on December 19, especially in major cities, like New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, ignoring the State Power. The Police tried their best to stop these people from holding anti-Government protest rallies, but failed! In the southern city of Bengaluru, the Police arrested noted historian Ramachandra Guha and many others. However, the protests went on. The Police brutality failed to stop the protesters in the National Capital, too. Historian Tanika Sarkar joined the protesters immediately after the Police released her. Earlier, she was arrested for taking part in the protest march. After being arrested, Yogendra Yadav tweeted: “I’m honoured.” In Kolkata, the protesters shouted: “Gandhiwali Azadi, Nehruwali Azadi, Ambedkarwali Azadi!” The message was clear… the Freedom Movement was not just a struggle to overthrow the British rulers, but the freedom fighters and their followers had successfully created an image of India through this movement. They were brutally tortured, jailed, hanged… but the Colonial Power failed to stop them from sacrificing their lives for India’s Independence! Their love for the Nation had given them the strength…
Ramachandra Guha Arrested
Can that India be a discriminatory and authoritarian Hindu India? Seventy-two years after the Independence, the entire nation replied: ‘No.‘ The reply reassured that ‘Unity in Diversity‘ is the mantra of public life in the South Asian country even in the 21st Century. The entire Nation roared as the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, passed by the Parliament on December 12, wants to divert India from that mantra.
The CAA seeks to amend the definition of illegal immigrant for Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Buddhist and Christian immigrants from neighbouring Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, who have lived in India without documentation. They will be granted fast track Indian citizenship in six years. So far, 12 years of residence has been the standard eligibility requirement for naturalisation.
The protesters did not demand any special benefit, but only the dignity and proper recognition as Indian citizens! In the Colonial Era, people used to join protests with a piece of paper, where they used to mention their names and addresses, in their pockets, fearing death at the hands of the Police. The December 19 protests reminded us of the history of British India.
This is not just a matter of emotion. Irrespective of their religion, class and gender, people across India have sent a strong message to all the political parties by taking part in the anti-Government protests. The message is: the political outfits should not use discrimination-based outrage for making political gains. The supporters of Hindu Superiority are eager to build a State on the basis of discrimination and hatred, as their main aim is to establish the sovereignty of a particular form of religious practice. However, the Indians rejected their call by demanding the repeal of the CAA.
Majority of the protesters were students, who are not accustomed to act only to safeguard their vested interests. The youths also ignore fear and temptation, the two weapons of the politicians for controlling the masses. The manner in which three female students of Jamia Millia Islamia University resisted the Delhi Police on December 19 inspired the youths in other Indian cities to join protests. They made it clear that they were not ready to inherit a fear-mongering, suspicious and discriminatory State. Who has the strength to verify their citizenship? The nationwide protests have also helped the Indians realise that they can rely on the new generations, as they are able to play a strong, moderate and refreshing role.
Politics, which is the lifeline of democracy, encouraged the common people to protest against the ruler’s Policy of Discrimination on December 19. The nationwide protests in India might remind one of the Arab Spring and the incidents at Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, Egypt! One may also remember another movement that had taken place a century ago – the Non-cooperation Movement! That movement was launched on August 1, 1920 by Mahatma Gandhi with the aim of self-governance and obtaining full Independence as the Indian National Congress had withdrawn its support for British reforms following the Rowlatt Act of March 17, 1919 and the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre of April 13, 1919. It is quite natural to find similarities between the two movements, with people from different walks of life participating in protest rallies in both cases. The only difference is that while Mahatma Gandhi had led the movement 100 years ago, the current protests seem to be mostly without one single leader!
A poster, carried by a protester in Kolkata, read: “Working Class people do not understand border, but food.” In Delhi, protesters offered red roses to the Police. When the Police started chasing the protesters in Bengaluru, they started singing “Jana Gana Mana Adhinayaka, Jaya He” (“Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people/Dispenser of India’s destiny“, the Indian National Anthem). And, the Police also joined the chorus!!!
Ahead of the New Year, the young protesters gifted a Nation, “united in non-violence“, to millions of Indians. Indeed, it is a matter of pride…
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