Mumbai: An Inquilab March, called jointly by students organisations in Mumbai, saw a mammoth gathering on Friday. After police denied permission to them to hold a morcha from Byculla to CST, the protesting students gathered at Azad Maidan.
The young crowd expressed their anger against the Citizenship (Amendment Act) or CAA and National Register of Citizens or NRC being pushed by the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government and demanded that the decisions be revoked immediately.
"We will not stop until they take back the new Act. CAA is Modi and Shah's weapon to discriminate against Muslims. India is our country and BJP is trying to divide it on Hindu versus Muslim basis," said Sabina, a commerce student, who said she had been participating in various agitations against CAA.
Another student, Manan Desai, who was dressed like a jail inmate, held a placard saying he would not submit his papers to any authority. "Muslims are being targeted by the Modi government. I have many Muslims friends. I have decided that come what may, even if the government puts me in jail, I won't submit my papers to the authorities. I won't be part of the CAA and NRC process which is anti-India," he said.
The protesting students received huge support from people across age groups. Many middle-aged women were also seen joining in the protest. Anuradha, an employee with a nationalised bank, said she took leave to take part in the protest. "I feel that it is my duty to be here. This is for our next generations. This generation loves freedom and it respects equality. But the Modi government is denying this basic right to them. So, it is a fight of all and for everyone," she said.
Among those present in the Azad Maidan protest were former Jawharlal Nehru University student leader Umar Khalid, stand-up comedian and YouTuber Varun Grover and other youth icons, whose presence energised the crowd, which shouted the slogan of 'Azadi'.
"We are now deciding to reach out to all colleges in Mumbai and suburban areas. Students who couldn't join us here would be invited for meetings. There is anger and unrest among students over these government decisions. They are not going to stop until the Modi government revokes these," said Samya Korde, president of Progressive Students Union.
Next week will see three more mega rallies in Mumbai. One of these is being called by progressive writers and artists.