KOCHI: With thousands of clenched fists going up in the air while anti-CAA slogans and drumbeats rented the atmosphere, Kochi witnessed one of its most lively protest rallies on Monday. Irrespective of age, caste, and creed, people from various walks of life thronged the streets as part of the various rallies and later converged near Cochin Shipyard against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
While the People’s Long March began from Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Kaloor, another one, organised by a collective of cine artists and technicians under the aegis of Collective Phase One, raising the slogan ‘Ottaykkalla, Ottakkettu’ (Not alone, but united), commenced from Gandhi Square near Rajendra Maidan. The Long March, which was not formally organised by any group, witnessed massive participation of youths and woman activists.
“Down, Down CAA, Down, Down NRC” was the main slogan heard in the march taken out by the protesters under the Facebook collective. Raising slogans against what they termed as the discriminatory and divisive policies of the Centre, the protesters said the new law aimed at communal polarisation and victimisation of minorities in the country. “The law is intended to expel a particular community very tactically,” said Rekha Raj, a Dalit activist who took part in the march.
The rally commenced from the Kaloor stadium around 1pm. People were seen holding the Tricolour and posters with anti-CAA and anti-NRC slogans.Filmmakers Kamal and Ashique Abu, actors Shane Nigam, Rima Kallingal and Nimisha Sajayan, writers N S Madhavan, K R Meera, Shyam Pushkaran and Unni R, singer Shabbas Aman and activist C R Neelakandan participated. “We cannot agree with any kind of law which divides the people on the basis of religion,” said Kamal.
“We have been watching the incidents happening around us for a while. However, these were questioned by the student community in the country. We should stand with the students and youth of the country and raise our voice with them,” said actor Rima Kallingal.
Director Ashique Abu said everyone had realised that this was a critical political situation. “Hence, the march witnessed massive participation. The protest will continue till the government rolls back the law,” he added. Shane Nigam said the borders were fixed by humans. “A few people are attempting to enforce the law and it should be we who must decide whether to obey or not,” Shane said.
Sulekha Khaleel, 59, a protester, said she always raised her voice for what she believed was right. “I protested with Sister Lucy during the Bishop issue. I also raised my voice for the devotees during the Sabarimala issue. No fascist regime can break the spirit of our secularism,” said Sulekha. Writer K R Meera said CAA and NRC will divide the country. “This protest is the best form of awareness,” she said.