The unrest triggered by the passing of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is broiling across the country. Thousands of people, including students and intellectuals, are on the streets fighting to save the Constitution of India. It is time that an iron-willed leadership rise and sustain this movement.

CAA is regressive and discriminatory, undoubtedly. It violates the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and is abhorrent for a secular country to discriminate and divide its people based on religion.

However, the BJP governments at the centre and states have resorted to suppress the protest using state machinery. Police have been on a rampage exercising brutal force against peaceful protesters. The video footages of Delhi police manhandling the students of JamiaMilia Institute have been harrowing. Shockingly, 18 people including an eight-year-old child have lost their lives in police firing.

The governments have also imposed curfew in various cities of the country. Internet and SMS services are blocked. According to a report by the internet advocacy group Access Now, India leads in internet shutdowns in the world ahead of countries such as China, North Korea, and other countries, where the government regulations and restrictions are more stringent.

Despite all of this, Prime Minister NarendraModi and Home Minister Amit Shah are determined to implement CAA. Modi says the protesters are brainwashed by the opposition parties. He is lashing out at the opposition for fanning unrest and spreading lies in the name of CAA.

But his assurance to Indian Muslims that the law is non-discriminatory has failed to send feelers. On the other hand, people exposed the lies in PM’s one and-a-forty-minute long speech made at the Ram Lila Maidan as a mark to kick-start the election campaign in Delhi.

The BJP government is working on its long-cherished agenda to transform India into a Hindu Nation as conceived by M S Golwakar in his book ‘We or the Nation Redefined’ published in 1939. The book envisions a Hindu nation where all “respect and hold in reverence [of the] Hindu religion [and] must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture…” The CAA and subsequent protests have also helped the BJP government to avoid questions on the falling economy, rising prices, diminishing growth and soaring unemployment.

In this hour of darkness, it is the moral responsibility of all politically conscious citizens of the nation to resist attempts to polarise the country on religious lines. The violence and bloodshed of partition should not be repeated. A national leadership must rise and save the nation from the imminent catastrophe.

The strident protests have stepped up pressure on the Modi government. The state governments of Kerala, Bengal, Punjab, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have opposed the Act and said it would not be implement CAA in their respective states. The coalition parties in NDA, who have voted in favour of the bill in the parliament, have now demanded for a relook given the eruption of countrywide protests against the rule. Even Modi, in contradiction to his close aide and second in command Amit Shah, has shown signs of giving in when he said that the government has no plans to extend National Register of Citizens (NRC) countrywide.

This is a victory for the fighting nation. The duo administrators, who have behaved like authoritarian dictators, have been forced to fall in line with the demands of the people of the country. But it is not all over. The central government has decided to go ahead with the National Population Register programme, the first step to NRC. This has to be opposed as well.

There must be peaceful protests across the country. The protests led by the students holding up the portraits of B R Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi are symbols of hope. The youth of the nation is ready, they need an ideal leadership to lead them. We must not let this movement lose its momentum and vigour.

It is time the secular, democratic and progressive leadership of the nation lead the march to spread, pervade and uphold the idea of inclusive polity, religious harmony, and cohesive society.

Jestin Abraham is a journalist


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