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Can’t leave our brothers in this fight, says trader

School students, traders, lawyers and others formed the chain that started from the base of Gandhi statue and went up to the crossing of Dufferin Road and Red Road

By Subhankar Chowdhury in Calcutta
  • Published 31.01.20, 1:35 AM
  • Updated 31.01.20, 1:35 AM
  • 2 mins read
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A part of the human chain near Gandhi statue on Mayo Road on Thursday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal

Thousands of people, including children, formed a human chain near Mahatma Gandhi’s statue on Mayo Road to mark the day he was killed by Nathuram Godse, whose descendants, they said, were wrecking havoc after 72 years.

Gandhi was shot dead by Godse on January 30 in 1948.

School students, traders, lawyers and others formed the chain that started from the base of the statue and stretched till the crossing of Dufferin Road and Red Road.

Prior to the formation of the chain, thousands of people led by an association, “Mechua Fruit Market (Kolkata)”, marched from Mahajati Sadan with Balkrishna Agarwal and his nephew Vivek Agarwal at the forefront.

The two were accompanied by Anil Kumar Gupta, who runs a dry fruit business like the Agarwals.

What prompted them to join the rally, skipping the day’s business?

“We have been doing business peacefully along with our Muslim brothers over the years in the Mechua area,” Balkrishna Agarwal said, standing next to Mohammad Alamgir.

“Ever since the row over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register broke out, they have been reeling under fear. We came to stand by them in their hour of crisis.”

They held a banner that read: “Protest rally against CAA, NRC and NPR.”

“Thursday marks Martyr’s Day. We are sure if the divisive acts are not resisted, many of us will be slain in detention camps. We cannot leave our brothers in the lurch,” Vivek Agarwal said.

Balkrishna’s distant relative Anil Kumar Gupta said Thursday’s was the fourth rally they have organised so far in the city. “It is the mark of camaraderie across communities that has helped us carry out a sustained protest,” Gupta said.

Before forming the chain, the participants sang the national anthem.

Lawyer Touseef Ahmed Khan said the fact that a Jamia Millia Islamia student was shot at by a suspected BJP activist in Delhi on a day Gandhi was assassinated goes to show that the Godse’s descendants were still alive.

“Gandhi was shot dead because he was against the turning of the country into a majoritarian state. As students of Jamia have stood up to a renewed attempt to turn India into a majoritarian state, they are now being shot at by descendants of Godse,” he said.

Students of Baitolmal Kelabagan High School were part of the march and many carried posters with Gandhi’s picture and a message that read: “Fear has its use but cowardice none”.

Simran Parvin, a Class X student who would take the Madhaymik exams from February 18, said she and others like her participated in the march instead of preparing for the exams because they were scared. “We don’t know whether we will end up in detention centres once the CAA-NRC-NPR is enforced. So, we took part in the rally,” she said.