The current socio-political climate in India is calling for action from everyone who cares about the secular and democratic nature of the country. Over the past few days, protests have erupted across the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA). During a protest in Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) University and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), many incidents of police brutality were recorded. The cops stormed the campus, lathi-charged the students and used tear gas shells to disperse them. Media reports suggested that bullets were used, whereas the police denied shooting at anyone. Students were even detained from both the universities and many were rushed to hospitals because they suffered injuries during the protest.
The students protesting are standing in solidarity and their slogan 'hum sab ek hai' is echoing all over India. They have allied themselves to stand against the CAA, which gives fast track citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh who have taken refuge in India. The centre has left out Muslims from the Act, making citizenship a matter of faith.
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a citizenship list that is part of the government's effort to identify and weed out people it claims are illegal immigrants in the northeast state of Assam. The government says that many Muslims whose families originally came from neighbouring Bangladesh aren't rightful citizens even though they've lived in Assam for decades. So far, this potentially affects two million people, not all two hundred million Muslims in India. However, the home minister, Amit Shah said that there are plans to extend the NRC process across India as well.
A nation-wide protest is being held on December 19th against the NRC and CAA calling the central government to repeal the "discriminatory" law.
View this post on Instagram
EDIT: Bombay changed to August Kranti Maidan 4pm. Chennai at 3pm at Valuvvar Kortam. ALSO: Mandi House to Parliament St at Noon in Delhi ON 19th. These are the known protests across the world for the 19th of December. I'm posting it now so that you have time to plan, to take time off work, to call friends and figure it out. If we don't stand up now, we may never again be able to. This is not "fearmongering", this is the sad, visible, truth. Every day, we lose a little more our way of life, our beliefs and ideals... We no longer have the luxury of silence, of apathy, of "apoliticism", of ignorance or of discomfort. Rise up. ❤️ . . (Will post any changes or additions to this list on my stories. Please send me any other information you may have about this. Especially for the 19th.)
Today, December 18 and tomorrow, December 19, you can join fellow citizens and make your voice heard. The ripple effect is being felt everywhere with campuses and educational institutes in different parts of the country including IIT Mumbai, Delhi University, Jadavpur University, JNU, TISS.
Over 400 students from universities across the United States have issued a joint statement condoning state-sponsored violence in the country. The universities including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Stanford, and Tufts said they condemn the "brutal police violence unleashed against students at Jamia and AMU".
Students from Oxford University also staged a protest march to India House in London to put international pressure on the government.
These crowds are mainly being mobolised by the Indians studying and living abroad. The students, scholars, and alumni of the University of Oxford issued a statement saying, "We condemn the violence unleashed on students in Jamia and AMU among other Indian institutions. The use of police force against students exercising their fundamental right to protests in the university spaces and elsewhere is direct attack on foundations of a democratic society."
"We also lend our voices in support of the fight against this immoral and unconstitutional law and call for its immediate withdrawal," it added.
University students and scholars of Harvard University have also written an open letter to the Indian government saying, "We are deeply shocked and concerned about reports of police brutality aimed at breaking spirit of protesters especially women. It is important to note that these events are in violation of rights to due process, public association and dissent."
The letter also stated, "Protests are inconvenient and disruptive, but they sustain the secular and democratic fabric of our nation. The violent suppression of protesters by the police, the use of tear gas, lathi-charges, and physical assault in response to peaceful dissent, and the police forces' forceful entry into university campuses and consequent Internet blockades there are all deeply reprehensible."
Students of Columbia University have also issued their solidarity and have planned a protest march on December 19 at 4:15 PM.
Their statement said, "The brutalisation of students and the attack on universities is against the fundamental norms of a democratic society. As teachers, students, scholars and members of civil society across the world, we are watching with extreme concern the situation unfolding at Jamia and AMU. We refuse to remain silent at the violence unleashed on our colleagues peacefully protesting the imposition of a discriminatory and unjust law."
Similar demonstrations were also seen in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where a silent march was taken out. The posters said "Merry Crisis and Happy New Fear".
Finland has also taken action and written letters to the Indian embassy.
One of the students at Tampere University, Ahalya Ganesh said, "This (Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC) is leading to a mass genocide and the state is attacking peaceful protesters and civilians alike, with tear gas and gunfire. They have cut down phone and internet services to stop the spread of information in five states."
Berlin and Zurich have extended their support too.
It's heartwarming to see students all across the world standing with their counterparts in India. Whichever side of the CAA and NRC debate you're on, it's essential to read and educate yourself as much as you can to make informed arguments.
Featured Image: Twitter, TOI
We’re closing the decade with #POPxoLucky2020, a whole season of exciting surprises every day! Also, don’t miss the new POPxo Zodiac Collection with notebooks, phone covers and magic mugs that're fun, fab and 100% you! Psst... there's an additional 20% off too, so head to POPxo.com/shopzodiac and take it up a POP!