Celebs join protests against CAA, NRC in Maharashtra

BY QUAID NAJMI   |  Mumbai


 Lakhs of people including commoners and celebs in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, including a huge chunk of students and youth, took to the streets on Thursday to vehemently register their opposition against the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens.

In Mumbai, the biggest procession was held at the historic August Kranti Maidan which saw a large number of celebs and political leaders like Raj Babbar, Naseem Khan, Milind Deora, Eknath Gaikwad, film personalities Saeed Mirza, Suhasini Mulay, Farhan Akhtar, and Sushant Singh, academicians, social workers, representatives of NGOs, students, and many more sitting in protest against the CAA-NRC.

"This is a truly spontaneous and amazing crowd, disciplined with a common aim. This should serve as a wake-up call to the powers-that-be," said academician Ritu Dewan from the August Kranti Maidan.

"We can see the sheer unity of the people here. All communities are present, Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, etc. Indians are united, these communities have lived together since centuries. They simply cannot be divided by any law," said prominent lawyer Avinash Gokhale from the venue.

"We don't give signals, this is a warning from August Kranti Maidan which kicked of India's freedom struggle... The government needs to heed this," Raj Babbar told media persons.

Similar huge protests and processions as in the country's commercial capital were witnessed in the state's cultural-IT capital Pune, wine capital Nashik, orange city Nagpur, tourism capital Aurangabad, textiles hub Kolhapur, Solapur, Thane, Palghar, Beed and Amravati.

In all these cities, the participants included a significant number of Muslim women and men, with even non-Muslims joining in huge numbers, indicating all-pervasive angst.

The protests had the support of the ruling Shiv Sena, Nationalist Congress Party, Congress, and other parties, barring the right-wingers like opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies.

The participants were carrying huge banners, handmade posters and flex posters with anti-CAA/NRC slogans, messages of communal amity, patriotic slogans, large pictures of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar, vociferously demanding that both the laws be scrapped.

Some eyecatching slogans on posters were "Jab Hindu-Muslim Raazi, Toh Kya Karega Nazi", "Omit Shah", which were carried by several participants in Mumbai.

After the long marches in their respective cities, the protestors staged a sit-in at various locations and chanted anti-CAA/NRC and anti-BJP slogans, sang patriotic songs in unison, clapped or danced under the watchful eyes of the large number of security personnel deployed all over.

Speakers and activists who spoke at different venues, attacked the BJP at the Centre for diverting the peoples' attention from burning issues like inflation, unemployment, economic crises, agriculture distress and others by forcing the CAA-NRC on the nation.

In Nagpur, Pune, Aurangabad, Beed and Malegaon (Nashik), the participants also demanded that the youth want jobs and women security instead of such laws which sought to create divisions in society on communal lines.

Aurangabad saw a minor fracas between a group of RSS student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad activists holding a gathering to support CAA-NRC and a group of Dalit students opposing it.

Both were seen raising slogans in support and against the two laws, but suddenly they started heckling at each other, but the police deployed there prevented the situation from going out of control.

While BJP state leaders like Leader of Opposition have demanded that the state government immediately implement CAA, Maha Vikas Aghadi Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said there is no hurry and it would wait for the outcome of the Supreme Court verdict in the matter.

Union Minister of State for Social Justice, Ramdas Athawale - a Mumbaikar - said in a statement that for the interests of the country, the CAA-NRC must be welcomed and accepted by the masses.IANS