Ever since the CAB was tabled in the Lok Sabha by the Modi govenrment, rampant rumouring and fake news have created a tense situation in Assam and Northeast. These myths and rumours have unfortunately taken the form of violent protests with Assam, West Bengal and parts of the Northeast witnessing vandalism, arson and widespread violence.
Apart from instilling a false sense of fear and panic in the Northeast, there was another line of protest against the CAB. It was being argued that the legislation is unconstitutional and violative of Article 14 as it allegedly discriminated against the Muslim community. Now, unfortunately the ongoing protests have taken a communal colour. The issue is no longer that of constitutional validity but that of religious opposition.
After CAB took shape of a law, the BJP made passionate appeals for maintaining peace. Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal asked people to maintain peace and PM Modi also made an appeal to address and allay the concerns of Assamese people in order to soothe their sentiments. However, unabated fear mongering and publication of fake news has only contributed towards further deterioration of the law and order situation.
I want to assure my brothers and sisters of Assam that they have nothing to worry after the passing of #CAB.
I want to assure them- no one can take away your rights, unique identity and beautiful culture. It will continue to flourish and grow.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) December 12, 2019
All kinds of myths were being widely propagated ever since the CAB came up for discussion before the Parliament that Indian Muslims will be disenfranchised and it was also being argued that India has barred Muslims from acquiring citizenship by naturalisation. Despite the government repeatedly making it clear that the Indian Muslims do not stand to lose in any manner, vested interests have been repeatedly trying to instill a sense of fear in the minds of Indian Muslims by telling them that the nation is going to become a “Hindu rashtra”.
It did not take long for the protests that got triggered in Assam to get hijacked by sinister elements. There was always a parallel and sinister narrative in the ongoing protests in Assam. While the Assamese chauvinists, including the AASU, was protesting against the CAB because they want Assam to be rid of all ‘outsiders’, whether they are Bengali Hindu refugees or illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, the parallel line of protest saw an opportunity to aggravate tensions within Assam and keep it on boil. This other faction with a more sinister conspiracy to keep Assam burning and avert a possible NRC somehow got involved deeply in the protests. Groups like AAMSU which do not want the NRC to take effect in Assam, and AIUDF which has been alleged to make a vote bank out of Bangladeshi Muslims have also joined the protest, seem to have found the perfect opportunity in background of the anti-CAB stir in Assam.
On Friday, the state of West Bengal also witnessed widespread violence after multiple Muslim organisations gave a clarion call to stage protests, which turned nasty and violent. The anti CAB protesters attacked a police station in Murshidabad, and also vandalised Murshidabad’s Beldanga station. The violent protesters and hooligans did not even spare an ambulance and starting pelting stones at it.
There have also been disturbing visuals of the anti CAB hooligans pelting stones at running trains in Howrah.
Anti-CAB protest turns violent in #Bengal. In Murshidabad stones pelted on an ambulance. Beldanga station vandalised by protesters. Muslim organisations had given protest call across the state after Friday prayers today pic.twitter.com/bdDyAIwEAc
— Indrojit | ইন্দ্রজিৎ (@iindrojit) December 13, 2019
Protests have now reached the National Capital and other areas of India. Jamia Millia Islamia University witnessed anti-CAB protests with a patently religious angle attached to them. 12 cops were reportedly injured and Allahu Akbar chants echoed at the University. Protests have also reached the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) creating a tense situation at the central university.
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) December 14, 2019
There have also been other visuals clearly giving clear proof of religious slogans being raised along with violent, disturbing protests. Other videos also give clear evidence of how the Muslim community is being provoked and misled about the CAB in an attempt to instigate violence. There is also a constant attempt to create the illusion that the Modi government is looking to bring the citizenship of all Muslims under the scanner, in an attempt to incite violence. .
— Swati Goel Sharma (@swati_gs) December 14, 2019
These are not Kashmiri terrorists but #JamiaMillia students pelting stones
They play the victim card when police takes action
But as per Barkha & Arfa Khanum this is Peaceful #JamiaProtest
— Archie (@archu243) December 14, 2019
— Mumbai Tak (@mumbaitak) December 14, 2019
The argument that the Citizenship Amendment law is unconstitutional is a bizarre and unsustainable argument, which was demolished by the Union Home Minister, Amit Shah in the Parliament itself. Senior Advocate and legal luminary, Harish Salve has also demolished the erroneous argument that the legislation is unconstitutional.
There is no bar on the right to protest, but the sheer amount of rumouring that has gone into the narrative against the CAB is preposterous. Moreover, the violent character of the protests coupled with their patently communal colour is an even bigger cause of concern.
The same students could have also protested in a civilised manner and could have also approached the constitutional courts, but unfortunately they have resorted to religious sloganeering and ugly protests. The moment you resort to violence and resort to criminal acts such as vandalism, destruction of public properties, arson and inciting passions against the state by making fake, communal exhortations, you become an enemy of the state.
Unfortunately, those protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Law have lost all civility and by necessary implication, legitimacy. They are using communal arguments and violence to create tensions at a nation-wide level. The anti-CAB protests have been hijacked by rogue, sinsister elements who are giving a dangerous religious spin to the protests. They have given the protests an unfortunate, patent communal twist based on outright lies and rumours.