“We don’t want to be second class citizens. We too belong to India,” asserted Nahla, who was attending a protest rally of students and youth against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Kerala’s Kannur district on Tuesday.
Nahla, a food technology student, attended the event with her friend Miran, who studies interior designing. The two students said they were attending the protest because they found their ‘very existence being questioned’. “The new law (CAA) is against our Constitution,” said Miran.
Around 2,000— 5,000 youth took part in the rally, which was, like many other protest events against the CAA and NRC in Kerala, organised jointly by a number of organisations.
However, there were, by afternoon on Tuesday, at least two other anti-CAA events in town that also witnessed similar programmes as on earlier days.
And it is not just Kannur. Almost every district headquarters in the state, from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasargode, is witnessing unending protest programmes; organised or attended by students, political parties, youth organisations, Muslim groups, cine artists, singers, persons with disabilities, even young couples and others, they openly challenge the controversial law, which critics have pointed out is brazenly anti-Muslim and violates constitutional values. Kochi was among the places that witnessed massive anti-CAA protests by different sections of society. In Kozhikode, the medical fraternity hit the streets with hundreds of doctors agitating against the law.
Beginning of ‘freedom movement’
Besides slogans against the CAA and NRC, protestors also shouted slogans against the Modi government, RSS, and ‘Sangh fascism’.
There were activists from different student and youth organisations. But there were also people who identify themselves with no group. Around half the participants were women.
The event was supported by many Muslim-centric student and youth organisations in the state, such as SIO, CFI and MSM. However, activists affiliated to these groups participated without waving their own flags or banners in a show of unity for a common cause.
At the end of protest rally, the public made a pledge to ‘save the Constitution’.
Young men representing different organisations addressed the gathering and made short speeches.
Ameen, one speaker, said their struggle will continue until the Centre repeals the contentious law. He also asked that the entire student community stand with the students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University, who were subject to violent police action during protests. Sanoop, another student leader who spoke at the event, saluted the sacrifices of those who have been ‘martyred’ across the country during the protests against the CAA-NRC.
For Ashraf Mambaram, another speaker, what the nation is witnessing is the beginning of the ‘third independence movement’. Ashraf also called for sacrifice from the students and youth for a nation built on ‘secularism and fraternity’.
Yousuf, a teenager who is known for his bold speeches, said the government will have to revoke the CAA as the people are unanimously opposing it.
The sentiments were equally strong among members of the audience, like Nahla and Miran.
Razeen, a Class 11 student, said he decided to join the event to protest against the ‘fascist agenda of BJP’. “Modi is trying to imitate Nazi Germany,” said Razeen, who said he is affiliated to no organisation.
Hudha, a young palliative medicine volunteer, said she was attending the event to ‘raise my voice’. “We can’t go to Delhi and protest. So we do it here,” she said.
Muhammed Sabith is an independent journalist and academic.