New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who landed in Kolkata for a two-day visit on Saturday, was welcomed with ‘Go Back Modi’ slogans by students, and anti-CAA protests by civil society organisations and political parties.
Widespread protests across the country have gained momentum after the Centre notified on Friday night that the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) had become operational from January 10.
On Saturday, students’ organisations from the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) and opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist) held protests in various parts of the city. TMC’s student wing- TMCP- began their dharna against CAA, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) on Friday at Rani Rashomoni Road in Kolkata. West Bengal chief minister and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee, who had declared that she was stepping back from the united protests and would protest alone, was expected to join the students for a brief time.
Meanwhile, Left activists, including students from Students’ Federation of India (SFI), CPI(M) and other outfits, took out rallies in Dum Dum area, which is close to the airport where Modi was supposed to land. The activists rallied with the placards and slogans of “Go Back Modi”. Some were even waving black flags and holding black balloons to greet Modi. To avoid the protests, the Prime Minister, reportedly, took a helicopter to reach the assigned site of his visit.
"We will continue our protest unless and until the Act is withdrawn. We don't want Narendra Modi to come to Kolkata as it will vitiate the atmosphere of our state," a protester told the media.
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On Friday, Modi had to skip the inauguration of the Khelo India Youth Games 2020 in Guwahati reportedly fearing the anger of people over CAA. The protests in Assam began on December 4, 2019, when the Act was a Bill, and have intensified after the notification of CAA on Friday night.
On December 30, the All Assam Students Union had warned the prime minster against visiting Assam. Other organisations have also joined it, saying that they would protest against Modi’s visit.
This is the second time Modi had to cancel his plans in Assam after the anti-CAA protests. In December last year, his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Guwahati had to be postponed because of protests.
Guwahati in Assam was the epicentre of the protests against the CAA and later the protests spread across the country. Assam Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and other BJP leaders have also been facing the anger of people across the state. On Friday, effigies of the PM, Home Minister and Sonowal were burnt by the Cotton University students, as per a PTI report.
This time, “it (the visit) is cancelled," Assam BJP spokesman Dewan Dhruba Jyoti Maral was quoted as telling news agency IANS without sitting the reason.
Amidst all this, Amit Shah is scheduled to visit to Kerala on January 15 , and is also expected to face strong protests, especially from students and youth. Youth organisations, including the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), have reportedly decided to observe a ’Black Day, when Shah lands in the state.
Meanhwile, the CPI(M) in Kerala is organising ''Constitution Protection Collectives'' in 104 places in the politically volatile Kannur district this month as part of its continuing protest against the CAA-NRC-NPR. The party is also planning a rally in Thalassery on January 13, in which prominent leaders, including Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and CPI state secretary Kanam Rajendran are expected to participate, the party''s Kannur district secretary M V Jayarajan told PTI.
Read More: CAA Notification: Modi, Shah Effigies Burnt by Cotton Varsity Students, AJYCP Protesters Detained
"The programme will be held under the aegis of Constitution protection committees constituted by us. This is an initiative to bring together people who believe in secularism and democracy but we have kept the communal and extremist organisations away from this," Jayarajan said, adding that it was against the Constitution to decide citizenship on the basis of religion.
"The 104 rallies will conclude by January 21. There has been a very positive response to the constitution protection collectives at various places which has encouraged us to spread the values of the Constitution," Jayarajan said.
He said: "The concern of the religious minorities should be resolved through mobilisation of secular people and not by joining hands with communal extremists having a similar mindset of RSS."
Apart from this, the ruling Left Democratic Front has announced a human chain on January 26 from the northern end of the state- Kasargod- to southern end- Thiruvananthapuram as part of the protest series against CAA. The announcement had been made by LDF convenor A Vijayaraghavan almost a month ago, who said the front was open to joint agitations with the democratic fronts.
Vijayaraghavan, however, maintained that LDF would not associate with the Jamaat-e-Islami, Social Democratic Party of India and other such parties that have ‘fundamentalist’ views, adding solidarity from such parties would lead to communal polarisation.
Read More: Students’ Anti-CAA Protests Resurrect Ideal of Equality
The Left-ruled state has been at the forefront of protests against CAA. The state Assembly had last month passed a resolution against the Act and has also stayed the NPR exercise in the state considering apprehensions of public that it would lead to NRC in the wake of the controversial CAA.
(Inputs from PTI)