The protest at Jama Masjid
Anti-CAA protest at Jama Masjid | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint
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This isn’t an apologetic explanation of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests being “too Muslim” — even though you apparently can spot those who are protesting and inciting violence by the clothes they wear. This is a proud admission of the protests being as secular as the Constitution of India.

Because as PM Narendra Modi said Sunday, after days of brutality, fear-mongering and state violence, “Unity in diversity is India’s speciality.”

The protesters who keep getting detained or beaten, come back onto the streets in more numbers — to protest against dilution of ethnic rights, the NRC, the exclusion of Muslims, the CAA, or simply, to protest the end of India as we know it. And in that — we are all one.


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Why do the protests ‘look Muslim’?

Because it affects Muslims. If the NRC is going to identify ‘infiltrators’, CAA is going to let non-Muslims back in easily. Home Minister Amit Shah has himself pointedly made this connection between NRC and CAA on several occasions.

The law clearly discriminates against Muslims, which is why expecting Muslims not to frontline these protests is not only silly, but illogical.

But then are those who are using this fact to distort and create a perception that these protests are “only Muslim”. The stark similarity of the anti-CAA protests to the protests in Kashmir also adds to the perception of these protests being too Muslims. Only now, the cries of azaadi are reverberating in almost every state of India. Lathi charge, tear gas, stone pelting, firing at protesters and imposition of Section 144 was also thought to be a Kashmir phenomenon. But now, it is happening right in the heart of Delhi.

It’s not Islamist or extremist to fight for fundamental human rights.


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People ask why a Ladeeda Sakhaloon and Ayesha Renna have turned into the face of these protests. Many publications even dug out “extremist” posts from their social media accounts to delegitimise their stand — apparently, they said “Allahu Akbar” and “InshaAllah” on their Facebook posts.

So, what’s wrong in saying Allah Akbar or InshaAllah? Saying InshAllah and being secular was never mutually exclusive. Neither was being Muslim and being Indian.

A weeping young woman, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia, who went viral on social media because of what she said against CAA also had to spell out her religion and confirm she’s not a Muslim.

A Muslim speaking against CAA is somehow “obvious”, but a Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi speaking against CAA carries more weight. And yet, Muslims continue to speak out and participate in protests — because at this point, what do we have to lose?

And if you feel the protests are too Muslim, come join them.


Also read: Gandhi made first call for non-cooperation from St. Stephen’s but British didn’t storm campus


An everyone, everywhere anger

The crowds of anti-CAA protests sure have hijabis and white skull cap, kurta pyjamaclad men. But then the crowds also have Chandrashekhar Azad, Sitaram Yechury, Harsh Mander, Yogendra Yadav, Nilotpal Basu, Brinda Karat, Ajay Maken, and Sandeep Dikshit in it.

And these are just some of the known names.

The protests have students, lawyers, doctors, comedians, IITians (since India loves them so much), historians and those who can’t stand quietly anymore as Modi and Shah paint the country saffron.

The reasons for protesting against CAA may be different. Perhaps, someone in Assam is against CAA because they want to protect their ethnic identity, while someone in Uttar Pradesh is protesting because Muslims are slowly and steadily being disenfranchised through CAA and NRC.

But the house isn’t divided on the unconstitutionality of the CAA and how absolutely unnecessary it is for India.

The fact that a Dalit youth leader receives the loudest cheer in the Jama Masjid protests points to how even Muslims are not just looking at the “Muslim leadership” to call out the bigotry of this government. Chandrashekhar Azad held up the Constitution of India and the Bhim Army raised posters of B.R. Ambedkar and the Tricolour in a crowd of mostly Muslims. This while Jama Masjid Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari remained absent.

So, no it isn’t Muslim-only anger. It’s everyone, everywhere anger.

The author is a political observer and writer. Views are personal.

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22 Comments Share Your Views

22 COMMENTS

  1. Painting every institution by same brush will lead to chaos and won’t help anybody. Same type of
    us vs them arguments I saw in Modi-1 when JNU debate was on. Realize what happened, Modi won second term. Democracy is name of dialogue where you don’t brush everyone with same color. There are shades of grey everywhere. This applies to both sides. I’ll ignore personal comment about easiness of giving advise.
    While it’s impossible to know what exactly transpired without listening to both sides the fact remain there were loss of property and stone pelting. While not pointing fingers to anybody question remains how protestors can protest by ensuring no loss happens and without giving opportunity to other side to aggravate situation.There were protests like that in different parts and were more successful. I am always reminded of Gandhiji who defeated British by ensuring that. Thats the only possible way in which these protests will become successful in long run. Else we’ll see these protests fizzling out.

    • What you write is correct. But when passions are high and there is a crowd, things can and do get out of hand.

      It should be clear that it’s not just the CAA that provoked the violent protests. It’s the systematic suppression of Muslims over the last few years. So it was also a release of pent-up anger.

      You also have to consider that at least some of the violence was instigated by the police itself. This is an old trick used also by the Congress in the past.

  2. The problem with Sakhloon is not the Inshallah part, but the part where she calls India fascist for hanging Yakub Memon, the part where she glorifies culprits of the Moplah Anti Hindu riots. She also rejects the secular arguements. If she rejects secularism, then what locus standi does she have to question the supposedly ‘anti secular or communal’ law?

    • Muslims played themselves by these protests. Now any secular hindu will think twice before supporting muslims because all hindus want bangladeshi infiltrators to be pushed back from the country and the majority happen to be muslims except for in Assam & Tripura. I dont get why muslims from islamic countries should be allowed citizenship in our country. In major capitals Bangladeshi muslims are taking over enclaves and cornering low level jobs. Indian Muslims shouldn’t support them because it inforces the majority perception that muslims dont care about their nation but only religion.

  3. All controversies about CAA and NRC are result of various public announcements about them made by the PM and Home Minister inside and outside parliament. They have said many things about how the infiltrators will be thrown out in bay of bengal describing them as termites. Now when people got offended and started protesting these two top leaders are blaming the opposition. This is really ridiculous. People clearly see through their false statements. Jharkhand result is the real indication for disenchantment of the people towards BJP and its leaders.

  4. Are you really sure that Ladeeda’s facebook timeline only contained Allahu Akbar and Inshallah ? Did she not idolized terrorists Afzal Furu, Yakub Memon in her posts. Did she not rejected the ‘Secular Protests’ in a long post? Did she not post list of CRPF men killed in Pulwama attack with happy expression? Are you just going to conveniently overlook all of it ? Who are you kidding with this secular nature of these protests ? Ain’t no one is falling for it.

      • There is another article by Roopa Subramanya on print read that. Google search it. I’ll request this author to follow her advise else these protests begin to sound hollow when one wants secular treatment by rejecting secularism

        • I had read the original article in 2018. And now we are almost in 2020.

          To fight one needs some sense of identity. So there should be no surprise that this is happening. Secularism doesn’t mean that you completely give up your identity. This apparent contradiction will always remain.

          • It explains kind of thought process two ladies in question have. Not sure how it could have been captured in 2018.
            I am trying to understand thought process of protestors beyond NE. Is it a stand on principle of secularism or religious identity? More and more I check it seems it’s stand of religious identity. I was disappointed to see students from Jmi chosing religious identity to protest as against secular principle which was possibly no brainier and that’s the contradiction which will fail these protests in long run. If religious identity is chosen for protests then same identity will be chosen to suppress/malign it and protestors should be ready to face the disappointment in long run.

          • First of all, the protests have been widespread, not only by Muslims. So they have something that’s not OK.

            Muslims stand to lose the maximum if this law (along with the NRC) is enacted.

            When your government says that even a passport is not proof of citizenship, then something is seriously wrong, especially in a country with 300 million illiterates.

            When this happens, all should fight, religious or not. It becomes irrelevant.

  5. Hahaha, The lady is a joke. This whole drama is Muslim oriented along with other usual suspects. We didn’t saw any protest in any Non-muslim locality. All these Jamia, Seelampur, jana masjid area have substantial Muslim pop. So protest happened only there

    • You didn’t see protests in non-Muslim localities, BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T WANT TO SEE THEM, AND CLOSED YOUR EYES TO THEM! Barring you, though, the whole world saw Hindus everywhere protesting strongly against the CAA and NRC!

  6. The Muslim community is a major component of these protests, and with good reason. They needed to come out of their purdah of extreme diffidence in the face of continuing provocations. Students have a beef, so do large parts of the north east. However, what should worry the government is that this is the beginning of an expression of angst very early in the second term by many citizens who are hurting. Recall that middle aged Kashmiri saying, Arre Saheb, khush toh yahaan kaun hai …

    • I disagree on worry of government part. I think by holding these protests violently Muslim leaders/intelligentia walked into trap of Shah. So violent are these protests in some part of UP that has left many citizens wondering if these folks have their will they will make whole India Kashmir so there will be reverse polarisation in UP in coming elections. Muslim leaders/left intelligentia simply wasted an opportunity to establish themselves as a democratic force. They should have taken playbook out of Gandhi who stopped whole freedom movement when one police station was burnt with policemen inside. It’s told as an ideal thing in our books but it was political master stroke if I may say so as it allowed him to establish a valid freedom movement. Coming today if Muslim leaders/ intelligentia decided to hold a silent protests in large numbers what impact it would have been. Alas an opportunity wasted.

      • Agreed that violence is not the way forward. But how do you know what really happened? There was a news blackout. Do you really trust what Adityanath says? The Indian press is supine. So is the judiciary.

        It’s also very easy to give advice when you are not affected.

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