‘Fascist Govt, Repeal NRC, CAA!’ Say Over 1,200 at Chennai Protest
Over 1,200 people gathered in Chennai to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and NRC.
Although Chennai Police initially refused to grant permission to a few NGOs and political outfits, people defied the orders and voiced dissent. More than 1,200 people congregated at Valluvar Kottam in Chennai on Thursday, 19 December.
Many students and people from different walks of life came together, holding placards, and staged a demonstration against Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
“Fascist! Unconstitutional! Undemocratic! Divisive!” were some of the slogans that were raised.
Slamming the AIADMK-led state government, social activist Nithyanand Jayaraman said, “The state is in the hold of the Central government and they are not concerned about the sentiments of the people. But I am glad so many students in smaller towns, Trichy, Madurai and everywhere are protesting against police brutality and the legislation.”
‘Unconstitutional!’ Says Nithyanand Jayaraman
As per a letter, in response to permission sought by Mohammed Ghouse of Welfare Party, Chennai Police had said, “Your representation is not acceptable. On account of your false propaganda regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the law, there is a situation of conflict in maintenance of law and order.”
Social activist and environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman clarified, “So many thinking people are not going to come for a propaganda. That is what the party in power is doing. This act is clearly to divide people on the basis of religion and that is unconstitutional.”
Singer TM Krishna also expressed shock at how local and national media channels are not highlighting dissent expressed by lakhs of protesters across the country and presenting a lopsided view of the case.
‘AIADMK Acting Like Stooges’: TM Krishna
Numerous protesters raised slogans about the Act excluding thousands of Tamil refugees who have fled persecution in Sri Lanka.
“They didn’t include Sri Lankan Tamils because the thought wouldn’t have even occurred to them. Tamils are not even seen as part of the country,” Jayaraman said.
In 2016, former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had promised that AIADMK would ensure a separate homeland for Tamils in Sri Lanka and will demand that the Centre award them dual citizenship.
“Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is gone and this government does not have what it takes to stand up and tell the Centre that this affects the sentiments of the people.”Nithyanand Jayaraman, Social Activist
Singer TM Krishna slammed the state government as well:
“The state government is acting like stooges... They don’t have a voice and are imposing a legislation that is undemocratic and unconstitutional.”
Singer TM Krishna got the crowd singing ‘Raghupathi Raghava’ and urged people to stand together and condemn the ‘divisive politics of the BJP’.
Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam Slogans Echo Across Chennai
Several political activists said Tamil Nadu has never been keen to speak Hindi but because ‘of the crisis we are in, we will learn Hindi or even Chinese so that we can make the Modi government understand the problem at hand.’
Students of Madras University assembled as well, as they have been denied access to the campus to protest. On Wednesday night, a few students who were staging a protest inside the varsity’s campus were detained for a while and then let go.
Responding to social media reactions and questions in the vein of ‘Why are students protesting instead of doing their duty of studying?’ Varsha, a law student, said, “I study about the Constitution, our fundamental rights, history that talks of the greatest revolutions this world has ever seen. If I do not come out now and protest against infringement of my rights, then what is the point of education?”
“Our Constitution expects us to hold the government accountable. It expects us to speak our minds freely. It expects the government to give a fear-free environment so that you can have peace. A student who studies and doesn’t question, will not become a good citizen.”Nithyanand Jayaraman, Social Activist
He added, “Having to ask for permission for peaceful assembly is by itself an infringement of rights. If I come for a peaceful protest and there are people who enter to disrupt this, then I need the police to safeguard us.”
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