From politicians, writers and celebrities to men, women and children, lakhs of people came out to form a human chain from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The ruling Left Democratic Front (LDF) headed by the CPI(M) organised the protest with leaders of the coalition parties leading it at different points.
At the very top of the human chain was CPI(M) Polit Bureau member SR Ramachandran Pillai at the northern end in Kasaragod, while party leader MA Baby was the last person at the southern end of Thiruvananthapuram.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and state secretary of the CPI Kanam Rajendran joined the chain at Matryr's column in Palayam in Thiruvananthapuram. Filmmakers Rajeev Ravi and Kamal also participated in the chain. In Wayanad, Sister Lucy Kalappura, a whistleblower, within the Franciscan church joined the chain.
Pics from Tvm by Sreekesh Raveendranath Nair
"I thank all the people for coming out in large numbers from Kasaragod to Thiruvananthapuram. But let me make it clear that we do not have time to rest yet. This law is dangerous to the Constitution of India and is an attempt to destroy the secular framework of the country. Like I have said earlier, we shall not implement both the CAA and NRC in Kerala," Pinarayi said.
According to the LDF, 70 lakh people participated in the human chain that stretched across 620 kilometers. The participants of the human chain took an oath for the protection of the Constitution and also began by reading out the preamble.
"The era of division, religious intolerance and blood shed will not be repeated. We will stand close to the Constitution which is a pledge of human love and brotherhood. I pledge myself for the fulfillment of constitutional values. We promise that we will even give up our lives to prevent the cunning moves to replace the Constitution with Manusmrithi and democracy with Chathurvarna (caste system) and rule of religion. I pledge myself to the country 's unity, people's togetherness We hereby promise that we won't allow democracy and freedom to be brought down. We won't also allow minority communities to be suppressed."
Leaders of the CPI(M) and CPI administered the oath at various points.
What a moment. Lakhs of people out on the streets of Kerala on Republic Day to read out the preamble of the constitution, as a united resistance against Modi govt's oppressive #CAA_NRC— Korah Abraham (@thekorahabraham) January 26, 2020
This was taken right outside the Kerala legislative assembly in Trivandrum.#CAA_NRCProtests pic.twitter.com/ai4vPjxBFe
In Kochi former MPs Pannian Raveendran of the CPI and P Rajeev of the CPI(M) joined the chain while in Kollam, minister J Mercykutty Amma administered the oath.
"This is a historic event. 70 lakh people standing together to read the preamble of the Constitution. The Prime Minister said that protestors can be identified by the clothes they wear. But look at us, the colour of the clothes we are wearing are symbolic of our diversity. Our unity is our secularism," P Rajeev said.
"But then, for the first time, a law is passed in the country based on religion. After triple talaq, the issue of Kashmir Article 370’s abrogation came. As a continuation of that, the citizenship of this country is being made based on religion," he added.
Pics from Kochi by ArunChandra Bose
While the protest has got the backing off Muslim community outfit Kerala Samasta Jama al Ulama and some other Muslim outfits, the opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) led by the Congress has stayed away from it.
"Kerala is stating today that we won't allow anyone to destroy this country. When the country is in danger, everyone should stand together. Unfortunately, some are staying away," said Pannian Raveendran, a CPI leader.
In Kollam, an RSS worker attempted to kill himself in protest against the chain.
The CPI(M) had called for the support of all those who oppose the BJP. Kerala has witnessed a similar human chain on January 1, 2019. The LDF government had organised the protest, which saw a huge participation of women across the state over the entry of women of all ages into Sabarimala temple.