A powerful mass demonstration was held on 25th September, 2019 from 11 a.m. to 2.15 p.m. by over 500 Muslims at the national protest site, JantarMantar, New Delhi. With a large banner indicating a national protest, it was attended by Muslims from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Assam, Jharkhand and Maharashtra. On the dais were seated members of Parliament – IUML LokSabha MP, E T Mohammad Basheer representing Ponnani constituency in Kerala; Malppuram LokSabha MP, P.K. Kunhalikutty; IUML President, K. M. Kader Mohideen. MLAs from state assemblies like Tamil Nadu; and state level IUML party functionaries; family members of victims of mob lynching;Shweta Bhatt wife of Sanjiv Bhatt, sentenced to life imprisonment;ShaistaParveen (widow of Tabrez Ansari who was lynched by a mob in Jharkhand) with her mother Shahnaz Begum;lawyers who fought these cases. The protest was organized under the banner of Indian Union of Muslim League (IUML). There were 40 leaders – big and small – including family members of victims of injustice seated on the dais as also victims of National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. Women, children and youth participated in protest as also a few who were physically challenged.
The messages on the placards were written in five languages – Malayalam, Tamil, Urdu, English and Hindi; the messages urged for a democratic, constitutional, secular, socialist India.
- Save Kashmir
- Justice for Junaid
- We won’t let Hindustan become Lynchistan
- No more Kathua; No more Unnao
- Democracy not mobocracy; Stop mob lynching
- Youth seek jobs; Modi seeks jokes
- Farmers first; not corporates
- People first, profit last
- We want answers on economy
- Release Sanjiv Bhatt
- Respect multiculturalism; Uphold federalism
- Save Constitution; Save minorities
Shweta Bhatt recalled:
“My husband supported minorities as an IPS officer during the 2002 riots in Gujarat. He is an honest and straight forward person. I am struggling for the last one year, fighting a legal battle to secure bail for him. Today as I speak here there is a hearing in an Ahmedabad court for one of the two cases filed against him which are 25 and 30 years old. There is no evidence against him; the cases were filed on a private complaint. His only fault was that he gave evidence of what truly happened during the 2002 riots.”
Overcoming her emotions she said:
“I feel this dark period will not last long. I would support whenever I am invited.”
Shaista Parveen wife of Tabrez Ansari recounted how her husband was lynched in Jharkhand within days of her marriage:
“The mehendi (henna) on my hands had not even paled away when the killing took place. I have even approached the Supreme Court. If no justice is done, I will be forced to commit suicide, the blame for which will fall on the judiciary and the government. Modiji please get me justice.”
JantarMantar reverberated with the following slogans raised in Urdu/Hindi :
- Hindustan zindabad
- Awaaz do hum ekhai
- Dekhokahengey hum; izzat se jeyenge hum
- Bheedhatya band karo
- Musalmanokomarna band karo
- Kashmir bhihamarahai, Kashmiri bhihamarehai
- Modi Sarkarhosh me aao
- Modi Sarkar murdabad
Most of the 15 odd speakers invoked the Constitution of India or recited Urdu poetry/ shairi to give vent to their feelings:
- India belongs to all communities not just to one
- We Muslims will live and die in India
- BJP government is putting us under test
- We will fight for our legal rights and will succeed
- Stop insulting Dalits
- This country does not belong to Bajrang Dal, RSS; but to all of us
- Eyes of people are being snatched and spectacles given as charity
- Our aim is to get justice for victims of atrocities committed on Dalits, Muslims, Adivasis by Modi government
- We want our rights; we shall get these. We are not afraid of anyone; we will defend Ambedkar’s Constitution – which gives rights to all people.
- This protest is to strengthen secularism.
- The country shall be in ruins – events point towards this.
- There is turmoil in Assam; both Hindus and Muslims are affected; Kashmiris are facing hunger and thirst.
- There is injustice on Dalits by upper castes.
- We speak about 125 crore Indians.
- We got betrayal in the name of development.
- GDP is down to 5%.
- Even today a Dalit’s corpse is not allowed to be taken to the cremation grounds through the lanes of upper caste residents’ colony.
- Through democratic means people will remove this government.
- Dalits, Muslims are under attack; one man is surrounded by 10 people and killed; while the law laughs away.
- Mulklut jayega, asaarnazaraatey hein.
- Sārejahāṉ se acchā, Hindositāṉ hamārā; Ham bulbuleṉ haiṉ is kī, yihgulsitāṉ hamārā. While Muhammad Iqbal had visualized a rose garden, now India is being converted to a forest.
- Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Ishwar, Allah teronaam’ is being lost sight of.
- Kya poochte ho haal mere karobarka; Aainebechtahoonandhonkeshaharmein.
- Muslims made sacrifices for this country and for its boundaries; they helped draft Constitution in the Constituent Assembly.
- First tell us who is the faithful, Time will tell who is the traitor
- The slogan on the huge banner – Fearless India, India for all – reflects the challenges we are facing; this government is reverting India back to a dark age; there is no respect for the Constitution; there is mockery of Parliament; also government interference with judiciary is prevalent; muzzling of media is rampant, news from Kashmir is of blood and tears; an attempt to have one nation with one language, culture and religion is in process.
- We are fighting for Sanjiv Bhatt and are in solidarity with his wife Shweta Bhatt.
Future course of action of IUML
Actions and campaign were planned for all over India; IUML decided to associate with minorities and like-minded secular parties, try for a joint platform and send a team to Assam to study the problem and later inform the Parliament. It was decided to resist the process of extending NRC outside Assam.
At the end of the protest all participants were requested to come near the stage and a small prayer was recited for the welfare of all the citizens of India.
As I left the protest site at 2.15 p.m. lunch packets were being distributed for everyone. I recalled Morarji Desai’s campaign after the Emergency was lifted in 1977; he urged all Indians to shed fear and vote fearlessly, which led to Mrs Gandhi’s dislodgement from power. Today the theme of the protest itself captures the same sentiments.
Dr. P. S. Sahni is a member of PIL Watch Group. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Image Courtesy: IUML Facebook