Protest Against CAB: Civil Society Groups Call Bharat Bandh on December 19

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Prominent Muslim leaders at the joint Press meet by social and civil society groups on CAB, in New Delhi. — Caravan Daily

Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI — Describing the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) as a “divisive and destabilizing” move, civil society groups on Friday announced plans for a nationwide strike and protest against the bill on December 19. They vowed to continue the struggle till the government abandoned the move.

Expressing concern over the changing stands of some pro-secular parties in Parliament, the groups expressed their surprise over the support these parties extended for passage of the CAB in Parliament. Jamaat Islami Hind vice president Mohammad Jaafar, who was among those who held a press meet here, said the bill was the outcome of a “communal” mindset and agenda, and it was both biased and discriminatory. He said some Opposition parties sided with the ruling BJP to pass the bill in the Rajya Sabha, despite their claims of being pro-secular.

Without naming the TDP and the YSR Congress, Jaafar said the parties had promised to vote against the bill but did not keep their word. When asked about the Janata Dal United, he said chief minister Nitish Kumar did not even grant a meeting with Muslim representatives who sought his support.

All India Muslim Majlis-e- Mushawarat president Navaid Hamid said the real aim of the RSS and the BJP is not to bring ‘persecuted’ Hindu refugees to India, as they claimed, but to promote a “divisive agenda” in the country. If so, why did they not bring Myanmar and Sri Lanka Hindus in the ambit of bill, or Christians from Bhutan, who are also facing problems there, he asked.

Hamid pointed out that during the terms of the AB Vajpayee government, the BJP and the RSS never raised the issue of Hindu ‘persecution’ in the neighbouring countries. Now, they raised this bogey because they wanted to turn this country into an “apartheid state,” he said.

“There is an institutional arrangement in the form of the Nehru-Liyaqat pact for taking up the issue of religious minority persecution for discussions and resolution, but India did not invoke this pact ever. They (BJP and RSS) have a double face, they are playing with fire for winning elections and remaining in power, by raising trivial issues,” he said.

Noted media analyst Anil Chamadiya said it was a matter of grave concern that an anti-Constitutional culture is being developed in Parliament. “It is also a dangerous trend that the BJP and its ideological allies create an anti- Islam atmosphere by raising the bogey of Pakistan for their narrow political gains,” he said and added that the BJP seemed bent on undercutting the concept of federalism in the country.

Senior journalist Prashant Tandon said the citizenship issue was a long-settled one under the Constitution, and there was no need to change the definition now. “The amendments directly violated the Constitution and its spirit. To oppose this law, we have given a call for Bharat Bandh on December 19 under the banner of ‘Hum Bharat Ke Log Ke Naam’,” he said.

Jamaat Islami leader Engineer Mohammad Salim said CAB was a politically motivated bill and superfluous in nature because there already existed a legislation to deal with refugees and immigrants. He said the passing of CAB and the announcement of NRC at national level should not been seen in isolation and they were part of a larger design to target the minorities in the country.

The Jamaat leader stressed that differentiating between people on basis of religion was not only against the basic structure of the Constitution but also against human sensibilities and fundamental rights. Legal experts have opined that the CAB will not stand the test of Constitutionality in the court, he said, and added that the struggle against the new law would continue through democratic and legal means until the government changed its mind in positive manners.

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