Yesterday for nearly four hours I was cycling in various working class localities of Bangalore, covered around 30 kms . I noticed that after nearly 7 weeks since the draconian law of CAA was enacted, people in general are aware of things that are happening. Undoubtedly the “walls” between various communities have come down. As Karl Marx once said “conditions determine consciousness”, today the ongoing struggle against the #CAA_NRC_NPR has touched most of the vulnerable communities , who were hitherto were mute spectators and were at the mercy of those political big -wigs who would herd them for their own agendas.
I would like to mention here two of the most interesting episodes that happened yesterday. As I was cycling towards Koramangala, near NIMHANS an auto wala stopped me and wanted me to get down from my cycle which I did, he immediately grabbed my hand started shaking it vigorously! As I had never met him before, I found it surprising about the affinity that was being shown. In colloquial Urdu he said “aap itna risk leke hamaare liye ye Jo baat pehlaa rahen hain, mein isliye aap ka shukur guzaar hoon”( You are taking such immense risk for our sake and spreading the message). He was referring to the placards that were saying “I oppose CAA-NRC-NPR” both in Kannada & English”. He added “Saab, aap itna buzurg hote huve bhi ye sab kar rahen hein, magar hum kuch nahin kar pathe, sivaye protest mein shamil hona bas”(Sir, though you being so elderly you are doing all this campaigning , but we are not doing anything except going to protests)
I was really overwhelmed and felt guilty too, because in this country a Hindu sounding name gives enormous privileges like progressives who come from privileged upper-caste backgrounds who can afford to be radical and flaunt their ideologies.
Anyway, there was a mini-conference on the street itself! David a fruit seller, Surjit a software guy, a Mahadevappa another auto driver engaged me and themselves in a conversation about CAA and NRC. Ejaz the Muslim Auto driver who stopped me became an impromptu leader, canvassing against the draconian law; CAA and asking people to buy the Campaign Stickers. What was very moving was the fruit seller gave me Gua fruit as a mark of appreciation.
Later another middle-aged Mehraul Ali, stopped me to take a photograph of me on the Cycle and promised to put it on Facebook, declaring himself as a Congress worker, he was a hu lot disappointed with the leadership of the party, he too bought a couple of Campaign stickers. One of the Tea Stall owner, where I stopped for a cup refused to take money from me!
Overall I was a very satisfied and energised Cyclist yesterday. Sold 22 stickers, made ₹45 in fighting fund.
Jagadish G Chandra is an activist of New Socialist Alternative