Citizenship Amendment Bill and how it's sparking civil disobedience
The resignation of the Maharashtra IPS officer shows a clear trend - we might be, once again, entering an era of civil disobedience.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 is all set to become a law despite massive protests not only from the opposition, but also from the civil society, and most importantly, the Northeast.
Tires, trucks, and copies of the Bill are being burnt by the people of Assam, amidst a curfew in Guwahati and an internet blockade in 10 districts. Police have fired rubber bullets, tear gas shells and conducted lathi charges on the protestors. Flags of banned outfit ‘ULFA’ were spotted in parts of Assam, with ULFA-I chief issuing warning to Assam Police against initiating any attack on students staging protests.
The Modi government has warned TV channels against broadcasting any content that “promotes anti-national attitudes and/or contains anything affecting the integrity of the nation”.
But the government says all is well. The Prime Minister has assured the people of Assam that "they have nothing to worry after the passing of #CAB".
I want to assure my brothers and sisters of Assam that they have nothing to worry after the passing of #CAB.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 12, 2019
I want to assure them- no one can take away your rights, unique identity and beautiful culture. It will continue to flourish and grow.
But there is one feature or trend which has emerged from the protests against the CAB is the call for civil disobedience.
IPS (Indian Police Service) officer of the Maharashtra cadre, Abdur Rahman announced his resignation in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019. "The #CitizenshipAmendmentBill2019 is against the basic feature of the Constitution. I condemn this Bill. In civil disobedience I have decided not attend office from tomorrow. I am finally quitting the service," he tweeted, along with pictures of his resignation letter.
This Bill is against the religious pluralism of India. I request all justice loving people to oppose the bill in a democratic manner. It runs against the very basic feature of the Constitution. @ndtvindia@IndianExpress #CitizenshipAmendmentBill2019 pic.twitter.com/1ljyxp585B— Abdur Rahman (@AbdurRahman_IPS) December 11, 2019
He is not the only one. former IAS officer and human rights activist Harsh Mander on Monday announced that he will officially register himself as Muslim if the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill passed by Parliament.
If CAB is passed, this is my civil disobedience:— Harsh Mander (@harsh_mander) December 10, 2019
I will officially register Muslim. I will then refuse to submit any documents to NRC. I will finally demand the same punishment as any undocumented Muslim- detention centre & withdrawn citizenship.
Join this civil disobedience
"This is what civil disobedience means. It is incomplete unless you demand to be punished for breaking the unjust law you are protesting against," said Mander in an interview to Mumbai Mirror.
National Award winning filmmaker Jahnu Barua decided to withdraw his film from the 8th Assam State Film Awards and this year’s film festival in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
Barua said that the Assamese community will cease to exist 50 to 100 years after amendments to the citizenship law are implemented as the people were language-centric. The filmmaker blamed political leaders for triggering the current situation. “Since Independence, Assam’s fate and future has been in the hands of Delhi,” he told The Indian Express.
Activist Umar Khalid also called for a civil disobedience against the NRC because it is impossible for 20 crore people to have their documents ready.
Author Tony Joseph said he would refuse to submit “to this immoral act” by not submitting the requisite documents needed to prove his citizenship. “I will stand along with my brothers and sisters rather than be a mute spectator to their disenfranchisement,” he added.
I refuse to submit to this immoral act by not submitting the requisite documents needed to prove my citizenship. I will stand along with my brothers & sisters rather than be a mute spectator to their disenfranchisement.— Tony Joseph (@tjoseph0010) December 10, 2019
You should refuse too.#CABNRCSatyagraha pic.twitter.com/8h6rP5Vhk8
Several people on social media also began to call for civil disobedience after the Bill reached the Parliament. Using the hashtag #CABNRCSatyagraha, Twitterati asked Indians to not submit their documents to prove their citizenship.
Another former IAS officer Sashikanth Senthil wrote a letter to Amit Shah saying the passage of the bill “marked the darkest day in the history of modern India.” Irrespective of the status of the Citizenship Bill, the “idea of an all-India NRC by itself is a dehumanizing effort”, he said.
I should remind that irrespective of the status of the CAB the idea of an all India NRC by itself is a dehumanizing effort. We as people of this country should now stand up for all the marginalized. Annexed is my letter to the Home minister. It is Time to Act.#CABNRCSatyagraha pic.twitter.com/nhxrWEz8SS— sashikanth senthil (@s_kanth) December 10, 2019
We knew it was coming. But we were sleeping. Not late yet. Hope we wake up from the slumber https://t.co/Zsp6zmBTRf— Kannan Gopinathan (@naukarshah) December 11, 2019
Earlier during the abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan also quit the services in protest against how Kashmir and Kashmiris were clamped down, shutting the communication channels while the fate of their land was being decided by this government. Even he appealed to people to ''wake up from the slumber"
In a time when Nathuram Godse gets hailed as a patriot by an MP inside the Parliament, does it become necessary for the conscious citizens to remember Mahatma Gandhi and his values of civil disobedience? Food for thought.