As protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act mount in the country, a few Muslim and Dalit organisations in Kerala have called for a hartal on Tuesday, December 17, opposing the Act.
The move, however, is being viewed with apprehension as it would present the CAA as an issue that affects only certain communities. While leaders like Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala have categorically stated that the CAA impacts all sections of society, several prominent political outfits and organisations have opted to stay away from the hartal. Another reason for the Congress, CPI(M) and other parties opting to stay away is because the hartal call has been given by a group of parties including the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), and none of the parties want to be associated with the SDPI's brand of politics.
Organisations that have called for the hartal are SDPI, Welfare Party, BSP, Samastha Kerala Jam Uyyathul Ulama, Porattam, Dalit Human Rights Movement (DHRM), Solidarity and Jama Ath Council, among others. In the statement calling for the hartal, the names of academic and activist J Devika, Dr TT Sreekumar, KK Baburaj, NP Chekkutty, Gro Vasu, et el are also featured.
The call comes after the northern parts of the state witnessed protests over the past days opposing the CAA.
The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and the All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama have also decided to keep away from the hartal.
Kanthapuram AP Aboobacker Musliyar, General Secretary of the All India Sunni Jamiyyathul Ulama, told media in Kozhikode on Sunday that the organisation will not join any protest that takes the law into its own hands or outfits that have extreme stands.
â€śWe believe in protests that are peaceful and as per the law. Itâ€™s some minor organisations that have called for the hartal. We donâ€™t think that change should be brought in by revolting. Hartal may lead to communal clashes. And hartal will prove costly for people and traders who have already been hit by the pathetic economic situation of the country,â€ť Kanthapuram said.
â€śWe will also try to meet the Home Minister and the Prime Minister soon to convince them about the apprehensions of the Muslim community due to the Act. If that doesnâ€™t yield any result, we will move the SC,â€ť he added. KPA Majeed, IUML state general secretary, told TNM that the CAA should not be presented as an issue of a particular community.
â€śThe Act affects all sections of people not solely Muslims, and hence it should be viewed as such. It should not be presented as an issue of a particular community. The IUML hence will not support the hartal. Also IUML has always taken the stand that it will not join hands with outfits that have extreme stands. We have always been opposed to hartals as well because it affects peopleâ€™s daily lives. Itâ€™s totally unfair to call for a hartal during the Sabarimala pilgrim season,â€ť he said.
Meanwhile, the police chiefs of all districts in the state have issued statements that stern action will be taken if the organisations go ahead with the hartal.
â€śAs per the High Court order, the police should be intimated seven days in advance by organisations that call for hartals. However, no intimation has been given to the police by any of these organisations, though there have been active campaigns on social media about the hartal,â€ť the police statement read.