New Delhi: A group of students from several prominent universities including Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), Delhi University, Allahabad University and Banaras Hindu University (BHU) are set to start a 60 days long Nagrik Satyagraha Padayatra (citizens march on foot) against the Uttar Pradesh Police’s brutalities in dealing with anti-CAA-NRC protests. The march, which is also protesting against the targetting of Muslims, will start from Chauri Chaura of Uttar Pradesh on February 1 and culminate at Raj Ghat in Delhi.
The padayatra will be conducted in three phases in 60 days, starting from Champaran to Varanasi in phase one, from Varanasi to Kanpur in phase two and in phase three, from Kanpur to Raj Ghat. During the 60 days, the team will pass through villages, towns and cities with the message and stories of state oppression and the brutalities committed by UP Police targeting the most vulnerable and deprived communities in the state. The marching students will also spread awareness about the need to re-imagine Mahatma Gandhi in the present moment of crisis where communities are being pitted against each other – rich vs poor, Muslims vs Hindu, dalits vs upper-castes, etc.
"This satyagaha is against the police violence that not only took 23 lives and injured hundreds in Uttar Pradesh but also forced the most socially vulnerable and economically backward section of the society further to the margins. The police and administration that was supposed to help them with better life and opportunities, are instead scaring and brutalising them. Now, it’s a duty for us as citizens to stand up for the weak and brutalised people and tell them that the nation cares for them. If we don’t stand for them today, the dividing powers will grow stronger and the citizens of this nation will grow weaker by the day," Manish Sharma, one of the organisers, told NewsClick.
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He added, "Nighty eight years back it was in the same month of February when Gandhi had to call off the non-cooperation movement that he had launched against the British rule because the angry protesters had set Chauri Chaura police station on fire. Twenty three policeman had died in the incident. There was no place for violence in Gandhi’s movement. As the need has arisen, 98 years after what Chauri Chaura taught us, we are starting a Gandhian Satyagraha from the same place on February 1.”
The students also claimed that Gandhi and their forefathers built this country with the strength of togetherness and compassion within this diversity but the present regime is attempting to create a line between Hindus and Muslims and divide both communities. "The recent debate around CAA-NRC-NPR is not only anti-Muslim but is anti-poor. It will affect the most vulnerable such as tribals, dalits, Muslim and women, and destroy the essential fabric of this country," Roshan Pandey, a student of Delhi University, told NewsClick.
Rajvind Tiwari from Bhopal, Nitin of Aurangabad University, Roshan Pandey from Delhi University, Priyesh and Vikas Singh of BHU, Shesh Narayan Ojha and Akhilesh Yadav from Allahabad University, Prabhat Chandravanshi of Patna University, Avinash Gour from JNU, Ravinder of Bhagalpur University, Rashmi from IIT Gwalior, Deepesh of IIM Udaipur, Ankit of IIT Indore and Azhar of IIMC Delhi will hit the road for padayatra from February 1.
Explaining more about the Nagrik Satyagraha Padayatra, another organiser told NewsClick, "Through this satyagraha, let’s ask not this government but ourselves the tough questions. Why is it so easy to divide us? Let’s ask who had won when the country was divided 70 years ago and for whose benefit we stand divided again today. Let’s ask until when we will live with the politics of social-communal division and not with the politics of real issues, until then the dividing powers will keep snatching our resources from us to sell them on huge discounts to the rich capitalists for their own petty benefits."
The team also appealed to common people to be part of this journey and support the movement.
On December 19 and 20, thousands of people joined a protest against CAA-NRC-NPR in several districts of Uttar Pradesh. As the protests turned violent at a few places, at least 23 people were killed—most of them with bullet injuries—in Meerut, Kanpur, Bijnor, Firozabad and other places. Most of them were daily wagers.
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