As the country is boiling over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, Kerala is showing the way with a joint protest where the political rivals—Left Democratic Front (LDF) and United Democratic Front (UDF)—have come together to defend the secular values of the country.
On Monday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala led a satyagraha (non-violent resistance) at Martyrs’ Column in Thiruvananthapuram. State ministers, leaders from various political parties of both the fronts, cultural leaders and religious leaders have joined the satyagraha which took place from 10 am and 1 pm.
Lashing out at the CAA and the BJP-led central government’s divisive policies, Vijayan said that it [the Act] has been an attempt to curb freedom and the country was facing an “explosive atmosphere”.
“Our country is facing a severe crisis,” he said.
During the satyagraha, Vijayan, along with the leader of opposition, made it clear that the state will not support the act that gives citizenship based on religion. “If anybody says that minorities can not be considered as citizens, no matter who says it, we won’t implement it in Kerala.”
Regarding the concerns over whether a state can take such a stance, he explained, “The central government and state governments and citizenship acts are formed based on the Constitution of India. The government is bound to follow the Constitution upon which we had taken the oath when we formed the government. If anybody tries to sabotage the Constitution, we will oppose it. We are accountable only to the ideals of the Constitution of India, but not to the fundamentalist ideology of BJP-RSS.”
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The RSS's agenda was to ensure that India should not be a secular, but a religious nation, he said, adding that this will not be allowed. “India is a secular nation and believers of all religions and atheists have a place in this country,” he said.
Since before the CAA was passed by both the houses of Parliament last week, there has been a massive wave of protests across the country.
Expressing his strong concerns over the “dark era” in the country, leader of opposition in the state Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala, alleged that the CAA was a “great agenda” of the BJP and the RSS. “Voice of dissent—whether it is of the media or of the people—is being suppressed by the central government. The state will not accept anything which destroys the democratic and constitutional values of the country,” he said.
State ministers including KK Shailaja teacher, E P Jayarajan, A K Balan, E Chandrasekharan, Kadakampally Surendran, Kadanapally Ramachandran, KT Jaleel, AK Shaseendran were among those who attended the satyagraha along with the leaders from the UDF including P J Joseph, M K Muneer, Anoop Jacob, Sabarinathan etc.
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Writer and critic Professor MK Sanu, writer T Padnabhan, Fr. Yoojin Perera, Swami Sandeepanda Giri, Bishop Mar Grigorios, etc. were few among the ones who attended the satyagraha.
General Secretary of the All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama Kanthapuram Abubackar Musaliyar, who also attended the satyagraha, asserted that India was a land of all religions.
On the other hand, on Monday, students and youths across the country took to the streets holding placards that read messages along the line “no division based on religion”. The student community also registered their protest against the violent attack by Delhi Police on students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
Hours after the news of police action against the students from Jamia Millia Islamia and AMU came out, Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) organised a statewide protest march on Sunday night. Youth wing of Indian Union of Muslim League also staged protests in certain pockets.
Delhi Police on Sunday used batons and tear gas shells to disperse the protesters and entered the Jamia university campus, where tension prevailed, as several persons were detained. Hundreds of students of Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia were injured in the clashes that broke out in the campuses on Sunday.
Protesting against the attack on the student community, the Thiruvananthapuram district committee of the DYFI took out a protest march to the Raj Bhavan, where the protesters tried to break a police barricade while raising slogans in support of the students of the two universities. Protest marches were conducted across all the places in a similar manner.
Nationwide protests have broken out after the alleged police brutality on the university students protesting against the amended Citizenship Act in Delhi and Aligarh.
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(With inputs from PTI)