Despite Bharatiya Janata Party’s propaganda against the anti-CAA and anti-NRC protests being anti-Hindu, large sections of the Hindu population across India are joining hands to resist the acts. On January 13, a number of organisations of micro communities of Other Backward Caste (OBC) categories in Maharashtra came together to discuss the fallout of the act and the need to protest against it. Micro OBCs are those whose numbers are smaller as compared to other OBC communities.
OBCs constitute nearly 45-50% of the entire population in Maharashtra. However, the reservation in local bodies is 27% despite there being severe contentions about the exact numbers. Among the micro OBCs, communities like shimpi (tailors), sutar (carpenters), nabhik (barbers) form a significant part. All these communities have their own organisations, which have joined hands against CAA-NRC.
"When our people try for regular certificates they fail to produce papers. For generations, illiteracy and lack of knowledge has been prevalent among our communities. Now, the government is demanding papers. From where will our people bring these things? So to stop this, we will have to come out to the streets and protests," said Kalyan Dale. He is the leader of Bara Balutedar Sanghatana which is a confederation of smaller communities amongst OBC.
The Banjara community, which is a nomadic tribe in Maharashtra, has also joined hands with the new forum Praja Lokshahi Parishad. "Till recently we had no houses, no permanent address. In such condition, there are various localities of our community where basic infrastructure has become a luxury. How can the government expect people who do not even possess the basic facilities to have papers? We are planning to join hands with larger forums to make our voice against these acts heard,” said Bajrang Chauhan of Banjara Mahasangh.
Also read: CAA/NRC: ‘How Can We Show Papers’, Ask Nomadic Communities in Maharashtra
In the meeting on Monday, all the organisations decided to meet again on January 21 at Pune. In this meeting, the newly formed body will take decision on the future course of action with regards to protests and the mobilisation of OBCs. "These are smaller communities amongst OBCs. We will try to build solidarities among communities like Mali (gardener), Banjari (nomadic community within OBC), Teli and Aagari (fishing community in districts around Mumbai). If they join us then the gravity of protest will be bigger," Kalyan Dale said.
The OBC body is also planning to undertake a mass scale awareness programme. As a part of this, corner meetings, village meetings, special lectures on CAA and NRC will be arranged. They have also planned to coordinate with the agitations of other communities.
As a first step, the All India Muslim OBC Conference was also invited for the meeting. "It is not a Hindu vs Muslim issue. It is an issue of the poor and backward people of all castes and communities and religions. It is the duty of social organisations to make their followers aware about the nitty-gritty of the Act and help them to form their opinion. I think, we, too, are doing the same within the Muslim community and the people of India are now becoming aware about the disastrous impact of CAA and NRC," said Shabbir Ansari, president of All India Muslim OBC Conference.
On January 24, a mega march against CAA has been called by all political parties as well as more than 100 social organisations. The OBCs have also decided to join the march. As the hearing date of Supreme Court is nearing, the protests against the Act are also intensifying.