Historian Ramachandra Guha was detained, and later released, during protests in Bengaluru on Thursday.

From Siddharth toSwara and Farhan Celebrities turn up for anti-CAA protests
news CAA Thursday, December 19, 2019 - 20:43

On Thursday, India witnessed massive protests as thousands took to the streets across cities all over the country – despite prohibitory orders being enforced in many places – to protest the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens. Multiple celebrities, including those from the film industry, also turned up to the agitations.

Kollywood actor Siddharth came to Valluvar Kottam in Chennai where protesters had gathered from 3 pm onwards to demonstrate against CAA and NRC.

He alleged to India Today that CAA has given the government the right to decide who is persecuted based on their religion. 

Carnatic singer TM Krishna was also present at the Chennai protest. He told Deccan Herald that with CAA, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah had reinforced that they were “anti-Muslim”. Calling the government ugly and full of lies, Krishna alleged, “Every time they speak about diversity and equality, they are lying through their teeth.” He added that people would not accept a discriminatory legislation.

Historian Ramachandra Guha turned up to protest in Bengaluru around 11 am at Town Hall despite section 144 having been imposed in the city and the rest of the state on Wednesday night. He was also detained by the police. Speaking to reporters prior to his detention, Guha slammed the police saying there were acting at the behest of their leaders. "They are getting orders from Delhi. Our paranoid rulers in Delhi are scared," he alleged. He was later released along with the other 200 people who were detained.

In Mumbai, Bollywood actors Swara Bhasker, Farhan Akhtar, Sushant Singh Rajput and Huma Qureshi came to August Kranti Maidaan where crowds had swelled into thousands.

Speaking to the media, Farhan said that protest was a democratic right, and that there seemed to be “certain amount of discrimination in what has been planned and what is happening.” He added that as a citizen and as someone who had grown up with a certain idea of India, he felt it was important for him to raise his voice. He also pointed out that so many people would not be pouring out on the streets in protest if there was nothing wrong.

Swara Bhasker even took to the stage, with slogans of “Awaaz do!” and “Halla Bol!”

She reiterated that it was through nonviolent protests that India got its freedom, and that it is people’s democratic right. Every call of hers was answered with loud cheers and another “halla bol!” from the sea of people.

Bollywood filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, who is well known for making Rang De Basanti, was also came to August Kranti Maidaan. 

While Bollywood actors and celebrities earlier came under fire for not speaking up about the police action on students protesting CAA, later many of them did voice their support for protesters on social media. However, few were unequivocal in their support, with most of them staying on the fence, or taking a safe route, discouraging violence on “both sides” i.e. police and agitators.

A few actors such as Malayalam actors Parvathy, Rima Kallingal, Tovino Thomas, Bollywood actors Dia Mirza, Farhan Akhtar, Swara Bhasker, singer Sona Mohapatra had taken clear stands for the student protesters, right to protest, and against police action.

However, the true celebrities – heroes – of the anti-CAA and NRC protests are not well-known names such as the ones above. They are the youngsters, the thousands of students across the country who have stood up in dissent, even with the threat of detention, arrest and violence.