Bengaluru: Rally against CAA draws thousands to streets

The protesters, waving the tricolour and chanting ‘Aawaz Do, Hum Ek Hain’, gave a call for revolution and accused the Union government of dividing people on the basis of religion. 

A protest against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act drew thousands of people from all walks of life on Sunday. A big chunk of them were people from Northeast India living in Bengaluru. 

Students to working professionals, activists to authors and thinkers to politicians joined hands to stage a massive show of strength in front of Town Hall, one of the main venues for protests in the city. 

The protest, called ‘India against CAA’, was organised by ‘We the People of India’, a motley group of disparate organisations. 

The protesters, waving the tricolour and chanting ‘Aawaz Do, Hum Ek Hain’, gave a call for revolution and accused the Union government of dividing people on the basis of religion. 

The new law seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who arrived in India before December 31, 2014. The law has been described as “discriminatory” as it excludes Muslims. 

Addressing the protesters, historian Ramachandra Guha said the law violated Article 14 of the Constitution of India, which provided for equality before the law. Asserting that religion should not be a criterion for citizenship, he called upon everyone to oppose the law. He declared that he would visit Assam next month and support the protesters there. 

A representative of protesters from Northeast India sought to make a distinction between the protests happening in Assam and the rest of the country. “Everyone is against the exclusion of Muslims. Yes, I agree and this is against our Constitution, but the issue is completely different. What we need to understand is that we don’t want any immigrants, Hindus, Muslims or atheists whatsoever,” he said to a big round of applause. 

The loud cheers, however, appeared to have the opposite effect on the speaker who suggested that his voice was “not fully being heard”, and broke off. 

Brijesh Kalappa, a spokesperson for the Congress party, said that ever since the BJP came to power in 2014, it was bringing bills that are “unacceptable”, and cited the law against triple talaq, the abrogation of the key provisions of Article 370, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the CAB. He accused the Centre of “ignoring” serious issues such as unemployment and poor economic growth. 

Congress parliamentarian M V Rajeev Gowda said a conflict of ideologies had been raging for centuries: One ideology wants to divide India on the basis of religion while the other ideology celebrates the uniqueness of India, regardless of gender, language, region, culture, ethnicity and race. “It is this India that we want to build and that is not easy. It will take years but we are going to do it,” he stated. 

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