Guest Post : Jantar Mantar Declaration of 1 March 2020 Against CAA, NRC and NPR
Adopted at the Convention of writers, artists, cultural activists, scientists and various associations such as Indian Cultural Forum, Janwadi Lekhak Sangh, Progressive Writers Association , Jan Sanskriti Manch, Dalit Lekhak Sangh, New Socialist Initiative, Jana Natya Manch, Delhi Science Forum, Janasamskriti (Malayalam), Vikalp, Cinema of Resistance, All India Peoples Science Network
We, at this Convention of writers, artists, cultural activists, scientists and various associations express our deep concern over recent violence and communal genocide in Delhi.
We understand that this tragic situation is a direct outcome of the communal design and divisive politicsof CAA-NPR-NRC. The silver lining is that the common people of Delhi remained united in their fight against this outrage. This convention reiterates that only by this unity and mutual trust and cooperation that the CAA-NPR-NRC design can be defeated.
We, at this Convention of writers, artists, scientists, cultural activists and various associations declare our solidarity with the on-going non-violent movement against the draconian CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act. 2019 ), proposed new format of NPR ( National Population Register) and the proposed NRC (National Register of Citizens) .
These steps of the Central Government led by the BJP will shatter the democratic and secular character of the Indian Constitution that is the foundation of our unity in diversity. The recently passed CAA is the first such step that damages the very soul of the Constitution adopted by ‘We, the people of India’ after a long united struggle against British imperialism.
We, the people of India always celebrated the rich diversity of cultures, religions, languages and even natural resources. A verse in the ancient Atharvaved sang of this diversity :
((मंडल 12 सूक्त-1,45)
All great Indian poets since ancient times in all Indian languages have been celebrating this pluralism and secularism in their works.
The struggle against caste, gender and faith based discriminations with the spirit of वसुधैवकुटुम्बकम has always been an important feature of our cultural ethos.
We understand that divisive moves like CAA-NPR-NRC are taken not only to suppress the real issue of growing unemployment, worsening rural distress, deepening crisis in education and skyrocketing inequality, but also to impose a vision of unitary culture, language and nationhood upon the people of India. Attacks on protesters against CAA-NPR-NRC by the government, ruling party and allied non-state groups also seek to suppress pluralism of opinion, freedom of expression and democracy itself, including through violence.
CAA-NPR-NRC VIOLATE THE BASIC VALUES OF INDIAN CONSTITUTION
Our Constitution is a powerful expression of our collective will to fight all kind of discriminations practiced on earth. It guarantees the fundamental human rights to all human beings , citizens and non-citizens. The citizenship act prior to this amendment already had sufficient provisions to grant citizenship to genuine applicants without any discrimination based on race, religion, gender or nationality.
The CAA extends these provisions to ‘illegal immigrants’ also, who came from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan excluding only Muslims, including those Muslims who suffer religious discrimination such as Bohras, Ahmadiyyas and Hazaras, or the Rohingya from Myanmar It also makes no provisions for the tens of thousands of mostly Hindu Tamil refugees from SriLanka. These exclusions from the CAA show that the intention is to paint Muslim-majority States in India’s neighbourhood in a bad light, and as the sole perpetrators of religious and other disctimination. This clearly communal discrimination introduced in the citizenship act is designed to convey an unmistakable massage that Muslim Indians are somehow not at par with other religious communities of this country . It implies that merely because of the chance of being born Muslims , they have lesser claim over the entitlements and honors of being an Indian. At the same time it posits ‘the Muslim’ as a constant other before the nation.
We have already witnessed this in the Delhi Assembly elections held recently. A war-like hysteria was created among two religious communities with the sole objective of achieving electoral polarisation. Fortunately enlightened voters rejected such attempts and expressed maturity in terms of not succumbing to the venomous divisive games. It is the foremost duty of every citizen of the country to foil such divisiveness for protecting the foundational principles of the Constitution of India.
CAA-NPR-NRC DEMEANS OUR DEMOCRACY
The divisive design of CAA becomes sinister when it combines with the new NPR and the NRC. These two proposals are designed to create a vague category of doubtful citizenship which may include crores of people, especially the poor and landless, and then to oblige some of them with grant of citizenship, again discriminating on the basis of their faith especially targeting the Muslim communities of India.
The problem with the CAA-NPR-NRC project is not just its communal element. It is basically designed to be a powerful weapon in the hands of the government to take away all the constitutional rights of those who may disagree with it and to suppress all dissent of the deprived sections of our people. The government only need to mark an individual as a “doubtful” citizen without giving any particular reason and all constitutionally guaranteed rights associated with his citizenship will immediately come under a cloud. Such a grave danger to our democracy has never been witnessed in independent India.
CAA-NPR-NRC DEMOLISHES INDIAN DREAM
The CAA-NPR-NRC project also goes against India’s national ethos and Indian dream. Despite the unfortunate legacy of partition, we never accepted the communal principle of Two Nation Theory and we still pursue the dream of emotional unification of all the peoples of pre-partition India. The CAA-NPR-NRC project is the first official endorsement of the principle of Two Nation Theory which Indian people need to fight tooth and nail.
We, the people of India always felt proud of the rich diversity of cultures, religions, languages and even natural resources. The Indian Constitution assimilates this essence of our composite culture. Unfortunately, the ideology of Hindutva of the present political leadership at the Centre goes against this very soul of Indian culture and our Constitution. Baba Saheb Ambedkar, the architect of Indian Constitution attacked the ideology of Hindutva because it was against the democratic values of equality, liberty and fraternity. The NDA government led by the BJP-RSS came to power on promises of development for all, but began to implement the hidden agenda of Hindutva based on the fascist ideology of the RSS.
Now the BJP-RSS having control over the Centre are taking decisions with the same perspective of subversion of democratic values. The steps such as tampering with the Article 370 without the assent of the J&K assembly and then the CAA based on communal bias are nothing but the negation of the fundamental democratic values enshrined in our Constitution.
THE PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT AGAINST CAA-NPR-NRC
The Union Home Minister with threatening voice declared in the Parliament that after the CAA, there would be the next stage of preparation of NPR and then NRC. The vast sections of Indian people with democratic consciousness rose against this threat and a series of peaceful demonstrations of civil society, teachers, advocates, scientists, students, youth, women, intellectuals, artists, celebrities and political formations could be seen on the streets. Many state Assemblies led by non-BJP political parties passed resolutions against the CAA because it damages the very secular foundation of our Constitution.
The Prime Minister and his Home Minister, time and again, tell the lies to suppress the people’s movement that ‘the CAA is to grant citizenship and not to take away the citizenship of any body.’ The insertion of religion as criterion for citizenship by CAA kills the very soul of our Constitution and provides the handle to declare even bona fide Indian citizens as ‘illegal intruders’. This has happened in Assam. ‘Besides cases of ordinary people, there have been cases where military veterans, government officials, and even family members of a former President of India and former chief minister of Assam were excluded from the draft NRC list and were forced to prove that they were not “illegal” migrants before the Foreigners’ Tribunals’.(IndiaToday, August 31, 2019)
We, writers, artists, cultural activists and various cultural associations are of the opinion that the peaceful movement of the Indian people in Shaheen Bagh and in every corner of India is to save the basic character of our Constitution, the unity in diversity of our beloved country and the democratic values that can make us a modern civilised secular nation. Wehereby declare our solidarity with all the peaceful non-violent movements going on in the country and we appeal to all patriotic citizens of India to be part of this movement till the Government revokes the CAA and cancels its proposed plan of NRC.
We call upon all the writers and artists of this great country
- To actively unite with all peaceful movements against CAA-NPR-NRC.
- To observe following days as Protest Days throughout the country and To utilise these occasions to create awareness about citizenship, Constitution and Indian Dream :8 March : Women’s Day; 23rd of March : The Martyrs’ Day; 14th April :Baba Saheb Day : 1ST May : MAY DAY.
- To hold writers, artists and scientists conventions in all states , to be culminated in 2nd national convention of writers and artists .