Trade Unions and Citizens Demand Withdrawal of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and Sedition Charges
“The issue is not only about Assam or the Northeast, but affects the whole country, as it intends to change the basis of citizenship.”
January 15, 2019
Multiple student organisations, youth organisation, trade unions and civil society members demonstrated at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, demanding the withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the sedition charges against Hiren Gohain, Akhil Gogoi, Manjit Mahanta and others.
The activists were arrested post a January 7 meeting which was organised by the Save Assam forum in the heart of Guwahati, which was attended by eminent citizens including former Assam DGP Harekrishna Deka, former CMs Prafulla Mahanta and Tarun Gogoi, and several activists.
In the video footage of Gohain’s speech, he says, “If no one listens to us, the government, the state and political parties, then it’s a different thing, then we will definitely be compelled to raise the demand for an independent Assam. But let’s not get carried away by temporary emotions, as citizens of India, we will fight democratically as long as we can. If that fight is not successful, then the demand for independence will come up”.
After the filing of the FIR, Dr. Gohain told the reporters, “I have allegedly made statements amounting to sedition. In truth, some young elements at the rally at their indignation at the attitude of the government mentioned the relevance of ‘freedom’ for Assam. I intervened that such a demand can have relevance if and when all democratic resources have been exhausted and if the state and all democratic parties and organisations reject the legitimate demands of the people of Assam.”
Addressing the protest gathering, CPI(ML) Delhi State Secretary, Ravi Rai said, “The BJP has made its intention clear by passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill. By making religion the basis of citizenship and excluding Muslims from it, the Bill has become an attempt to legalise a Hindu Rashtra. Today, Assam is burning, but the government at the Centre doesn't care, and is arresting activists who are opposing the Bill. We will ensure that the BJP will witness protests across the country, and we will not allow communal polarisation to divert the attention of the people from the failure of the Modi government. We demand that the amendment is withdrawn, and the sedition charges are withdrawn.”
With protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill intensifying, organisations like AISA, RYA, AIPF, AICCTU, United Against Hate, CPIM- ML and other individuals took part in the protest. Niraj Kumar, general secretary of the Revolutionary Youth Association conducted the proceedings.
Delhi AISA President Kawalpreet Kaur, speaking at the protest, said, “The citizenship amendment is a major blow to the secular fabric of our country. It makes religion the basis of citizenship in our country. This is a clear violation of our secular constitution.”
Kiran Shaheen, senior journalist and member of All India People’s Forum, said, “Hiren Gohain, Akhil Gogoi are well-known activists and scholars. It is absolutely shameful that the BJP government has slapped sedition charges on them for speaking out against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The issue is not only about Assam or the Northeast, but affects the whole country as it intends to change the whole basis of citizenship.”
First published in Newsclick.
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