Monday, 30th October 2017

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'We will not submit' to CAA and NRC

All-faith pledge in Bangalore

By K.M. Rakesh in Bangalore
  • Published 24.12.19, 3:49 AM
  • Updated 24.12.19, 4:44 AM
  • 2 mins read
Thousands gather on the Khuddus Saheb Idgah grounds in Bangalore on Monday to take part in the rally against the amended citizenship law and the NRC. (AP)

Around 1 lakh people from different faiths crammed into an idgah in Bangalore on Monday while nearly another two lakh thronged the streets and lanes outside, all pledging not to furnish any documents if the National Register of Citizens was updated nationwide and the Citizenship (Amendment) Act enforced.

“Let us not submit our documents. We will opt for civil disobedience and throw the (citizenship) law back in the government’s face,” said former civil servant S. Sashikanth Senthil, one of the speakers at the Khuddus Saheb Idgah whose voice was carried over almost a 2km radius by loudspeakers installed along the roads.

Senthil had resigned from the IAS protesting the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and later written to home minister Amit Shah that he would boycott the NRC and was ready to be locked up in a detention centre as a non-citizen.

Tens of thousands had left home in the morning answering a call from several Muslim organisations to gather at the idgah, located near Cantonment railway station, to protest the citizenship amendment and the NRC.

The administration had barred vehicles from all the roads leading to the idgah up to a distance of 2-3km in every direction. But the crowds were so huge that even less than half could pack into the idgah’s sprawling grounds or assemble outside its gate.

The rest — thousands of them carrying the Tricolour and placards — sat on the streets all around, listening to the loudspeakers. Those who were too far way, beyond the lines of loudspeakers and even the traffic barriers, held their own small, impromptu protests.

Among the about dozen speakers were clerics, eminent citizens and rights activists.

“We don’t need a certificate from the BJP on our citizenship. We played a great role in the freedom struggle unlike the RSS,” said Maulana Tanveer Peer Hashmi, a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, backing the NRC boycott call.

Most of the Muslims had come wearing the traditional kurta, above-ankle pyjamas and skullcap as though to send a message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who recently said that those resorting to violence could be identified from their clothes.

It was, however, a disciplined gathering that followed every instruction from the dais to maintain order.

Social activist Harsh Mander said: “Looking at your clothes and faces, I can see only one thing (in common) — that here are people who love their country.”

He added: “When India was partitioned, people like me had only one choice: to stay in India. But you (Muslims) had the option of moving to Pakistan. Your ancestors opted to stay in secular India. So if anyone questions you, you must tell them that you are citizens by choice, and that they are citizens by chance.”

The speakers told the crowds not to fall for any promise from anyone and be ready to fight it out until the government repealed the citizenship amendment and categorically said there would be no countrywide NRC update.

Mander said the BJP had adopted the two-nation theory of Mohammed Ali Jinnah. “I feel the BJP should change its name to ‘Bharatiya Jinnah Party’.”