Video Editor: Puneet Bhatia
It’s been a little over a year since the Union government passed the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, which led to nationwide protests and communal riots.
A year later as India sees large-scale dissent at the national capital and adjoining areas, The Quint spoke to activists who said that the nature of both the farmers’ protests and the CAA-NRC protests is radically different.
While the former is a movement against ‘corrupt laws’, the latter was a movement against a ‘communal law’, they said.
There is not much that is similar about these protests, and the responses that they’ve generated have been highly contrasting as well – be it from the government, the public, or the international media. However, at the heart of the farmers’ protest and the anti-CAA-NRC protests is the rampant misinformation that plagued the movements.
The protesting farmers have faced a media trial – from being called ‘foreign funded’ to ‘Khalistani supporters’ to even being called ‘terrorists’, but little evidence has been put forward to back these claims.
What Was Different Last Year
Writer and activist Gurmehar Kaur, 24, told The Quint, “There was no space for negotiations. That is because in the 2019 general elections, the BJP came into power because it promised the people Anti-Muslim laws. It came into power on the promise that it would turn India into a Hindu Rashtra, a Hindutva state.”
Vibhu Grover, a 19-year-old photographer and activist, told The Quint, “During the anti-CAA NRC protests, the ingrained Islamophobia in the people of this country was way more visible than it usually is.” Grover, who covered the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh, is currently covering the farmers’ protests in Punjab and New Delhi.
‘The Muslim Community Was Demonised, Difficult to Do That to Sikhs’
Thirty-four-year-old writer Hussain Haidry told The Quint that “the government does not shy away in any manner to demonise Muslims and it’s not a hidden fact that it doesn’t like Muslims,” adding that however, “to demonise the entire Sikh community is a very tough nut to crack.”
“The entire CAA-NRC protest movement is discredited by demonising the Muslim community. The plan of action against any protesters, be it the farmers’ protest or anti-CAA-NRC protests is to label the protesters by calling them ‘terrorists’ or ‘misguided’, then showcase that the protesters really don’t understand what the intention of the government is and why they have put forth these ‘controversial’ laws, and thereafter, appeal to their voter base by demonising the protesters fully.”Hussain Haidry
Poet Naveen Chourey, a 28-year-old artist from Hoshangabad, MP, said he believed that the government’s ‘tactics’ have not worked this time around because people don’t particularly associate farmers with an identity or a religion.
He added, “A farmer has no religion. A farmer is a farmer. People from all backgrounds are farmers. When he goes farming, he removes his identity to do so.”
Lakhs of farmers around India are currently contesting three controversial farm laws that put their livelihoods at risk, and are engaging in discussions with the Centre to find a solution to end the protests.