Reject hatred, save the Constitution.
A pan-India campaign — titled Nafrat Chhoro Samvidhan Bachao — by more than 100 organisations, driven by the twin pledges, is covering West Bengal between December 6 and 8.
On Tuesday, on the 30th anniversary of the demolition of Babri Masjid, the campaigners walked from Hazra crossing to Y Channel in Esplanade.
On Wednesday, they took part in a day-long programme at Bharat Sabha in Bowbazar.
On Thursday, rallies and street-corner meetings will be held in Asansol and other parts of West Burdwan.
“Division, surveillance, propaganda, garlanding rapists... hatred has reached new heights. Religion is being used as a political tool to spread violence and communalism across the country... People’s organisations and members of civil society have hit the streets to connect with the masses,” says a written statement from the organisers.
On Wednesday, one speaker after another highlighted the threats looming over the country.
“The Emergency in 1975 was an administrative decision. It was thrust on the people. It did not have grassroots support. That is the difference between the Emergency and the situation now,” said Chhoton Das, a rights activist.
A Muslim man Das knows made a Facebook post about rising prices of cooking gas. He was trolled heavily and taunted for his identity.
“I asked my friend to preserve the post. The cylinder that cost Rs 400 now comes at Rs 1,100. Just imagine how happy we are in Hindu Rashtra. They want to change the Constitution,” said Das.
Kalyan Sengupta, another speaker, said the citizens had to take advantage of electoral democracy before it is too late.
“If Narendra Modi is not defeated in the 2024 general election, it might be all over for electoral democracy in India,” he said.
Non-Aligned People’s Movement, Swaraj India, Paschimbanga Khetmajoor Samity and Bandi Mukti Committee are among the many groups behind the campaign.
The organisers have acknowledged Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra.
“The Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is under way from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. At the same time, around 150 organisations are organising the Nafrat Chhoro Samvidhan Bachao campaign... The two campaigns have a similar objective, to stop the marauding juggernaut of hatred,” Avik Saha, of Swaraj India, told The Telegraph.
Social activist Medha Patkar was at the forefront of the Tuesday rally and the Wednesday meeting.
“A true leader is someone who walks among the masses,” said Patkar, who was recently targeted by Narendra Modi for walking with Rahul Gandhi in the Bharat JodoYatra.
She also talked about the Bilkis Bano case.
“Violence against women is being welcomed. This gender-based difference is being greeted and valued,” she said.
“Hate speech and propaganda take communal politics to another level, leading to riots and, in extreme cases, genocide. The Citizenship Amendment Act is a tool to stigmatise the minorities and reap political dividends,” said Nousheen Baba Khan, a Kolkata-based activist who had also been a part of the BharatJodo Yatra.