NEW DELHI: Students and activists protested against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Monday, calling it an “attack on the Constitution” and criticising the sedition charges slapped against Prof. Hiren Gohain.
Prof. Gohain, 80, is facing charges of sedition after an FIR was lodged against him for allegedly advocating the secession of Assam during a protest against the Bill.
“The Bill is against the secular fabric of the country. This is consciously excluding a group of people based on religion. This is a step to legalise the Hindu Rashtra which has been the pet project of the BJP and the RSS,” said Om Prasad, who recently completed his PhD from Jawaharlal University.
Amidst sloganeering of “BJP sarkar hosh me aao”, “sedition charges nahi chalenge”, Shradha T K Lama from Sikkim said the Bill has a “communal” character. “Such a step challenges the solidarity of the country. The narrative is being readjusted to fit into a parochial picture,“ said Lama, a masters student of history at DU.
Discounting particular religious denominations such as Muslims violates the Constitution, said Kavalpreet, Delhi president, All India Students Association. “This step is to create communal tensions in the country and move towards building a Hindu Rashtra as envisioned by the BJP.”
Kiran Sahin, a journalist-activist, said this step to exclude Muslims was an extension of the BJP government’s continuous effort to marginalise minority groups such as Dalit, Adivasis, and women. Even though the turnout was modest, Sahin pointed out that the people arrived at very short notice to protest against the religious agenda being pushed by the Centre.
Angam from Manipur who was at the site to “observe and not protest” said the Bill was against the people and would have a deep impact on the indigenous people. Similarly, Manoj Singh, a businessperson at the protest, said the government was attempting to “break and remake the Constitution”.
Protesters criticised the sedition charges against Gohain and said the government was trying to spread fear psychosis against dissidents. “A person like Hiren Gohain has been slapped with sedition charge. This shows people who are raising their voice against the Bill are under attack,” said Rajendra Prathuli.