17, Feb 2020 | CJP Team
Recently a contingent of 23 Dalit and Adivasi forest workers from Lakhimpur Khikri, Sonbhadra and Manikpur arrived in New Delhi to express solidarity with people protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The visiting contingent comprised members of the All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP).
Just like the protests at Shaheen Bagh are predominantly led by women, the movement for forest rights in Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra region has been spearheaded by women. AIUFWP deputy general secretary Roma Malik, as well as senior union members like Sokalo Gond, Rajkumari Bhuiya, Kismatiya Gond and many others met with protesters at Shaheen Bagh, where folk singers from Sonbhadra also sang songs of protest.
Citizenship has been defined as the right to have rights. Over the past six years, there have been clear political moves to fundamentally assault and redefine this Constitutional basis of both Indian nationhood and citizenship. Especially now, with the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 being passed and a not thoroughly debated all India-level NPR-National Register of Citizens (NRC) process. CJP is urging people to understand, organise and fight back democratically. Let’s stand up for the Constitution of India. We must unequivocally reject CAA 2019 and at the same time in the same breath, NPR/NRC. For this we need your support.
Amir Khan, an activist working with the union said, “The Indian state is playing same tactics to exclude or disenfranchise these oppressed groups despite Forest Rights Act 2006, which guaranteed their claim over forest and its resources through Individual and Community Forest claim. These are similar pattern of NRC wherein they have been asked to share their 3 generations documents i.e. 75-year land records to have a claim on their Forest and its resources.”
On Sunday, a group of women protesters from Shaheen Bagh also organized a rally to march to the Ministry of Home Affairs. “After Amit Shah offered to talk to protesters to help the protesters gain better understanding of CAA, the protesting women including ‘dadis’ decided to tell him that they were neither ignorant nor confused about the CAA. They know that it is unconstitutional and want it to be scrapped. In fact, they said they could help Amit Shah understand the Constitution. That is why they wanted to march to the MHA,” said Khan explaining the reason behind yesterday’s rally. But the police prevented the protesters from marching to the MHA. “First, he offers to talk, then he does not come to meet the protesters, and when they try to visit him, the police who reports to him, stop them,” Khan wonders aloud.
Some images from the rally may be viewed here:
The protesters at Shaheen Bagh have put forward three key demands:
– That the un-Constitutional and highly discriminatory CAA be scrapped
– That all arrested anti-CAA protesters be released immediately and compensation be paid to families of those killed in police firing and crackdowns
– The Supreme Court hears the petitions against CAA
In wake of back-to-back instances of armed men discharging their weapons on peaceful protesters, first outside Jamia Milia Islamia University (JMIU) and then at Shaheen Bagh, where a majority of the protesters are women, Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and All India Union of Forest Working People (AIUFWP) had come together in solidarity with the peaceful protesters and condemned the attacks on them.
The attacks on the protesters, as well as the inflammatory speeches that incited these attacks, violate several serious sections of the law. Hate speech violates Section 153 (a) (b) (c) and Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), as well as Section 295 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC). These speeches and violent attacks also violate Section 307 (attempt to murder) and Section 120-B (Criminal Conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.