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Kolkata Adapts Bella Ciao Song for Modi-Shah, Burns Their Effigies

Hundreds of students participated in a protest march against the CAA, NRC and the violence in Jamia and Aligarh.

Updated
Politics
3 min read

The day after personnel of the Delhi Police beat up numerous students inside the campus of Jamia Millia Islamia in the national capital, students erupted in protest at colleges and universities across the country.

Outside Jadavpur University on Monday afternoon, hundreds of students participated in a protest march against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), NRC and the violence on students in Jamia and Aligarh.

The protesters burned effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, and also had a song dedication for the duo.

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The Song of the Season: Bella Ciao

You may recognise the song from the popular Netflix series Money Heist but Bella Ciao is actually an Italian folk song that goes as far back as the 19th century. Since then, the song has featured in several protest movements across the world.

In Kolkata on 16 December, demonstrators against CAA sang a Bengali adaptation of the song, specially directed at India’s prime minister and home minister. Listen in!

In case you didn’t comprehend the Bengali lyrics, here’s the translation:

“Oh, Narendra Modi and Amit Shah
CAA will go, go, go away.
The Fascists are already trembling in fear
We will remove the BJP from power in India.”

At India Gate in Delhi, yet another adaptation of Bella Ciao rang through the air, with protesting joining in the chorus of “Ae zaalim, wapas jao (Oh oppressor, go back!)”

From a Bengali version sung in Kolkata to a Hindi one gaining popularity in Delhi, Bella Ciao seems to be the protest song of choice at these anti-CAA protests.

A few months earlier, Jadavpur University students had sung a similar rendition of the song. That was at a protest following the violence surrounding BJP leader Babul Supruyo’s visit to campus.

The Students vs The State

A protester outside Jadavpur University holds up a placard referencing Sunday’s violence in Jamia Millia Islamia.
A protester outside Jadavpur University holds up a placard referencing Sunday’s violence in Jamia Millia Islamia.
(Photo: Meghnad Bose/The Quint)

Not all those gathered were from Jadavpur University. There were several protesters from other institutes such as Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute (SRFTI).

We even met a student who is in Kolkata on vacation but decided to join the protest march. Sukanya, a recent graduate from Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College, tells The Quint, “The Prime Minister said in a speech that those who are causing violence can be identified by their clothes. So, the BJP’s plan is very clear, it’s communal otherisation. We need to realise that unless we are upper caste privileged men, we are all minorities in some way and it’s going to come for each of us some day. However, the immediate threat is not mine but I still feel angered.”

She adds, “Making the police enter educational campuses in the manner in which they did is completely against the law and we must muster the force to protest against such reprehensible atrocities.”
Sukanya, a recent graduate from LSR, protesting while on vacation in Kolkata.
Sukanya, a recent graduate from LSR, protesting while on vacation in Kolkata.
(Photo: Meghnad Bose/The Quint)

And here is what was arguably the most hard-hitting poster on display at the protest.

“Does this country only have Ram?”
“Does this country only have Ram?”
(Photo: Meghnad Bose/The Quint)

Watch The Quint’s YouTube live with the student holding up this placard, and several other protesters, as we discuss the happenings around the country and whether such protests can force the Modi government to reconsider its positions on the CAA and the NRC.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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