Tens of thousands of people gathered at Bengaluru’s Quddus Saheb Edigah grounds on Monday morning to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. At the massive gathering, protesters called for a civil disobedience movement against the CAA and NRC.
A large number of people from various groups belonging to the Muslim community showed up for the protest. Residents of RT Nagar and surrounding areas of Benson Town and Cantonment shut their shops to attend the protest. The crowd started trickling into the maidan around 10.30 am, and within an hour the grounds were packed with a crowd so big that security personnel had to lock the gates and install barricades.
Around 1 lakh people showed up for a massive protest against CAA and NRC. Protesters pledge to start a civil disobedience movement of centre does not roll back this law. @thenewsminute #CAA_NRCProtests pic.twitter.com/3io8pz62i7— Theja Ram (@thejaram92) December 23, 2019
Thousands of people who were coming in for the protest then began waving the national flag and shouting slogans along Miller’s Road. From the underpass near Jayamahal Palace Hotel along Miller’s Road and all the way till the Bangalore Mizo Presbyterian Church, the entire stretch was filled with protesters.
The protest was peaceful, with people shouting slogans and waving flags when prompted. Loudspeakers were installed at various points on Miller’s Road, with announcements to maintain peace being made at regular intervals.
Speaking to the protesters, former IAS officer and activist Harsh Mander said that the BJP must change its name to Bharatiya Jinnah Party. “The Hindu Mahasabha and the RSS just like Jinnah wanted two countries. One Islamic and a separate one for Hindus. Hence, they should change their name to Bharatiya Jinnah Party,” he said.
He also called for a civil disobedience movement to counter the government’s NRC programme.
“Gandhiji taught us civil disobedience, when he along with 70,000 people went to jail for making salt and defying the British. He taught us to resist discriminatory policies of the government by rejecting such laws made by the government. I’m pledging that I will not submit my papers to the government. Let them put me in a detention centre. We will fill them up by not submitting our documents,” Harsh said.
An elated crowd began shouting “Hum kaagaz nahi denge, hum kaagaz nahi denge,” (We will not give our documents) and pledged to part take in a civil disobedience movement, if need be.
Former IAS officer Shashikant Senthil, who resigned from his post as Deputy Commissioner of Dakshina Kannada district earlier this year citing intolerance on behalf of the government, was also present. Senthil too called for a civil disobedience movement and said that the government’s plan to “divide and rule” has backfired.
“Look at the crowd today. Around 1 lakh people are here. The government brought in CAA and NRC to divide the people of India on religious lines. But today, we have all united. We must thank the students and the youth who united us. I appeal to the government to roll back CAA and NRC as soon as possible or protests will continue. We will fill up your detention centres until there is no more space. We will start the civil disobedience movement,” he said.
Retired Supreme Court Judge Gopal Gowda, who was also present at the protest, read out the Preamble of the Constitution along with several lawyers. Justice Gowda said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah must clarify people’s doubts and state conclusively whether the CAA and NRC would be implemented.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while addressing a gathering at New Delhi’s Ram Leela Maidan on Sunday, said that the government has not made plans to execute the NRC.
“Amit Shah has said inside and outside the Parliament that first the government would enact CAA and then implement NRC. Now Modi is saying that there have been no plans to execute NRC. One of them is obviously lying. The Prime Minister must clarify what the government’s stance on this issue is immediately or we will continue to protest,” Justice Gowda said.