NEW DELHI: Cries of “kagaz nahin dikhayenge” (we wont show papers), “Tanasahi nahin chalegi” (we won’t allow dictatorship) rang out on Thursday at the iconic India Gate in Delhi as protesters took a pledge to defend the constitution and continue to oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new citizenship law.
Thousands of Indians brought in the New Year on Tuesday night with protests all over the country. Social media buzzed with protest notes and invitations to demonstrations at midnight. One note from the women of the Shaheen Bagh neighborhood in South Delhi — who have been holding a nonstop 17-day protest — invited people to join them for biryani, tea and protest songs and slogans to bring in the new year and “salute the fallen heroes in the struggle against this fascist regime, in Kashmir, in Assam, in Uttar Pradesh, in Karnataka, hit by police brutality in all corners of the country” and “to mark the first nationwide revolution for a new secular India.”
Anti-government protests had been brewing across India since almost 2 million people were stripped of their citizenship in the northeastern state of Assam earlier this year as part of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise that makes it mandatory for all Indians to provide certain documents to prove citizenship.
That was followed by the Modi government’s move to implement the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passing a bill on Dec. 11 that offers a fast track to Indian citizenship for non-Muslim refugees from the neighboring countries of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh — specifically Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who arrived in India before 2014.