Citizenship Amendment Act Protests in India

Assam, Dec 15 (ANI): Women raise slogans during a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment ) Act, 2019, organized by Assamese artists, at AEI Playground, Chandmari in Guwahati on Sunday. (ANI Photo)

In December 2019, Modi led BJP government, imposed a new citizenship law that threatened the rights of millions. By bringing up CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act), NPR (National Population Registry), NRC (National Register of Citizens), the Modi government openly promotes India as a Hindu nation. The new law singles out Muslims from certain countries as not eligible for citizenship while prioritizing Hindus. This had triggered huge anger not just among religious minorities but also from wider communities who had taken to the streets in opposition since the announcement to oppose this blatant human rights violations. This state of agitation is not only because of citizenship law but the continuous repression caused by the government. The aggregated anger built up over the years has been unleashed in Assam and quickly the mood transferred to other states. The Demonetisation, implementation of increased GST(good and services tax), NEET, Shut down of Kashmir’s democratic rights, Institutional Killings, Babar Mosque Verdict etc., have all been the background to the outburst that is taking place now. Taking away the national rights of the Kashmiris had already ignited the national tensions in India which is a prison house of many nationalities. Now, this new offensive to assert ‘one nation’ on the Hindu agenda had provoked mass movement.

A huge number of workers and youth are taking part in this mass movement to oppose the new citizenship act and Modi regime. However, this had also become a cross-class movement. Even some of the capitalist state parties had come out in opposition and called for mass protests. In the southern state Kerala which is led by CPI (M) (communist party of India (Marxist)) Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan stated they will not implement the law. He also has written to 11 Non-BJP Chief ministers in other states asking them to demand a resolution in assembly similar to Kerala against the citizenship law.

In addition to this, 100 various organisations have come together and formed a joint forum to carry out protests against the CAA law.

How the Modi Government retaliates?

In New Delhi, police entered the Jamia University campus forcefully and fired tear gas and beat the students holding anti-citizenship law posters. At this very moment of writing this article, JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) students and teachers are brutally attacked by BJP goons. In Uttar Pradesh, the police picked mainly the poor Muslim families and asked to pay for the damages caused by the CAA protests. People who participate in these protests in any form are either arrested or detained. Historian, Ramachandra Guha was arrested and detained mid-interview. People who drew kolams (Rangoli) with anti – CAA slogans were detained in Tamil Nadu. There was a ban on demonstrations and national level curfew also imposed by the Modi government – which was however ignored by the protesters. People are still in the streets and not ready to give up.

Role of left organisations

Mass movements that had taken place across the world have also had an impact in India. Particularly the movement in Chile, Hong Kong where the masses faced back what seemed a strong government.  

The participation and radicalisation of students in these protests are also one of the important reasons why these CAA protests gained momentum in such a manner. This is the very first time since independence, the entire nation had reacted to the repressions caused by the government.

It is a very crucial period for all the left organisations especially the communist parties, trade unions, farmers, students and working-class to unite together to create a platform for struggle.

Not only the withdrawal of CAA, NPR, NRC but also other rights such as basic pay, freedom to practice any or no religion, Right to Self Determination, Refugee Rights, Free education and Healthcare should be demanded. The upcoming General Strike on 8th of January, 2020 can show the fighting masses, who are in charge of the country. Tens of millions of workers are expected to take part in this strike which can shut down the whole country. This strike can be a start to build an alternative democratically organised platform that can offer a clear alternative to capitalist policies.

The masses don’t have to wait for the parliament to deliver the rights for them. Struggle committees can be built-in workplaces universities etc. which can come together to form a powerful base to decide the future of the society. This is possible only through a coherent strategy to combine the opposition to Modi regime with other demands such as decent housing, Healthcare, Education, Land Reform, Religious Rights etc. Real change can only be achieved through the working class taking the power and carrying the socialist transformation of society.


Sara Rajan