The 71st Republic Day on Sunday (January 26) witnessed hundreds of Indian Americans staging a peaceful protest across various cities of the country against the amended citizenship act introduced by the Indian government.
Many places also saw protests by supporters of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act who asserted that ‘India cares for neighbouring minorities’ and ‘CAA won’t impact Indian citizens’.
Those opposing CAA held peaceful rallies and marches in various US cities, carrying anti-CAA banners and raising slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and demanding CAA’s repeal and revocation of the proposed National Register of Citizens.
They raised the demand ruing that India’s secular fabric is under threat. In some of the cities, particularly New York, Chicago, Houston, Atlanta and San Francisco having Indian consulates, and at the Indian Embassy in Washington DC, the protestors raised slogans like ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ and ‘Hindu, Muslim Sikh, Isai: Aapas mein sab bhai bhai’. The protesters, however were countered by a number of Indian Americans who supported the enactment and congratulated the Modi government for taking such a bold step.
Also read: Hundreds of women launch sit-in against CAA in Mumbai
The largest gathering of anti-CAA protestors was reported from Chicago where Indian Americans gathered in large numbers and formed several mile-long human chain. In the American capital of Washington DC, more than 500 Indian Americans marched from a park near the White House to the Gandhi Statue in front of the Indian Embassy. The anti-CAA protests in at least 30 US cities were organised by recently-formed Coalition to Stop Genocide, comprising several organisations like Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), Equality Labs, Black Lives Matter (BLM), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR).
“The brutal crackdown by the on anti-CAA and anti-NRC protests has created a situation in which women in large numbers have come out on streets to challenge the divisive-communal-fascist agenda of the government,” Magsaysay Award winner Sandeep Pandey said, addressing a gathering in Washington DC. It gives hope that democracy and Constitution can ultimately be saved by the common people from a government which is bent upon destroying them,” he said. IAMC president Ahsan Khan said from the Bay Area in California, the rally of Indian Americans represents an extension of the massive unrest in India against the ruling BJP government for its relentless attacks against the secular Constitution.
“Indian Americans and people of conscience in the US are seeking accountability from the Hindu nationalist regime that wants to turn Indian Muslims into foreigners and render them stateless,” said Khan after the rally in San Francisco. “Protests happening not only in India but around the world represent a global consensus against the draconian policies of the Modi-Shah government,” said Dr Shaik Ubaid from New York.
“All Indians are equal citizens and that is the foundational social contract between the Indian nation and its citizens,” said Minhaj Khan from New Jersey. “Breaking this contract has grave implications for the future of India as a country,” he added.
Also read: Pro-Pak elements infiltrating anti-CAA protests in US: Indian American leader
At some of the places including Washington DC, pro-Khalistani supporters held separate protests against India. According to the CAA, people from Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come to India till December 31, 2014, from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan due to religious persecution there will be given Indian citizenship.
The protesters claim that the legislation was “unconstitutional and divisive” as it excludes Muslims. They have expressed apprehensions that the CAA along with NRC will impact the community in the country. The Indian government has been emphasising that the new law does not deny any citizenship rights, but has been brought to protect the oppressed minorities of neighbouring countries and give them citizenship.