Swaraj Abhiyan president Yogendra Yadav on Monday said although Prime Minister Narendra Modi claimed that anti-CAA protesters could be identified by their clothes, and saw only skullcaps and hijabs among them, he must also witness the coming together of Adivasis and Dalits to oppose the contentious Act and notice another piece of cloth: the Tricolour.
“I wish he was here today to witness Adivasi women, the youth and other citizens coming together to protest,” said Mr. Yadav at a gathering in Barwani. More than 15,000 people from Dalit, tribal, labour and students groups took part in a rally, the first such large-scale, unified protest in Madhya Pradesh against the law, the proposed nationwide implementation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR).
Demand for resolution
The participants, under the banner of ‘Samvidhan Jan Bachao Andolan’, called upon the Congress government in the State to pass a resolution in the Vidhan Sabha to not implement the NPR, and in effect purportedly stymie the build-up to the NRC. So far, Rajasthan, Kerala and West Bengal have passed resolutions against the CAA.
“The Central government had no shame asking us for votes, but today it is asking us to prove our citizenship,” said Medha Patkar, leader of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. “This is unacceptable. Hum kaagaz nahin dikhayenge (we will not show our papers),” she said while addressing the rally.
Social activist Harsh Mander claimed mostly Dalit and tribal labourers were excluded from the NRC in Assam, and thus the NPR and NRC wouldn’t affect only one community, but the whole country.
“People who work in the fields to feed the nation and labourers who are exploited in the name of progress do not need to furnish proof of citizenship. Rather, it is the government that needs to prove its allegiance to the country, that it can deliver people’s demands for employment, fair price for produce and the rights to education and health,” said Harsingh Jamre, an adivasi.
Amid slogans of ‘Samvidhan Bachao, Desh Bachao’, a protester said, ‘We have always fought for our constitutional rights in our communities, and now have united to fight against this attack on the Constitution. This is the beginning of a unified movement against the NPR-NRC-CAA, and it will not end until the government concedes our demands.”