• CAA-NRC: Govt. should engage in meaningful debate instead of maligning protests, says actor Sushant Singh

    Tarique Anwar

    January 21, 2020

    New Delhi: Lashing out at those who are busy doing smear campaigns against the protesters at Shaheen Bagh, which has emerged as one of the epicentres of resistance against the controversial CAA, NPR and the proposed NRIC, Bollywood actor Sushant Singh said propaganda, name calling and abusing show lack of logic and intelligence. The smear campaigns have been alleging that the protests are sponsored and the participants are paid Rs 500-700 to sit there in shifts and that ‘Urban Naxals’ providing them ‘intellectual support’.

    “I only laugh at them. If you have to fight, why don’t you fight with logic? Why not engage in meaningful debate? I have been saying this since day one. I have been appealing to the government and the people who are supporting CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) that why don’t you all sit together and talk. Of course, those who are supporting CAA, they feel that we are wrong and we feel they are wrong. What is the solution, except talking and smoothing out the differences? Either we are wrong or they are wrong, let either side try to convince the other, and the matter can be resolved peacefully. But nobody seems to be talking. If you have to resort to name calling, abusing and indulging in smear campaigns, it means either you don’t have logic or you lack intelligence,” he told NewsClick. at Shaheen Bagh where he had come to express solidarity with the protesting women.

    The actor was reportedly fired from his TV show ‘Savdhaan India’ for protesting against CAA, the National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC), which he later dismissed as “speculation”.

    “The moment CAB [Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019] came into the public domain and I came to know about it, my wife and I discussed about it. We felt that this is against the fabric of our Constitution, which does not allow us to discriminate with anyone on the basis of caste, creed, gender and religion. When it turned into an Act, protests across the country began taking place. I was already speaking against it. The Jamia Millia Islamia incident on December 15 last year (when the Delhi Police entered the varsity campus, vandalised library and brutalised students) was a trigger for me. I had never witnessed such brutality on students in my lifetime,” he said, who was accompanied by his wife Molina Singh.

    On being asked how difficult it was for him to take this decision at the cost of his career, he said, “I don’t know it was a bold decision or not, but I had to come out and support the students. Let’s not even discuss about my career as the issue is not that. My career or anybody’s career for that matter is immaterial because we are fighting for the country and its Constitution.”

    Commenting on the government narrative that has been claiming that the protesters have been misguided by the Opposition, he said, “I want to know who has misguided people across the country? Nobody misguided me. I came to know about CAB, then I educated myself. I and my wife educated ourselves. We read the whole citizenship act and its amendment. We read as many analysis as we could. We spoke to lawyers. And then we came to our own conclusion. Then who is misguiding us? It is so convenient to blame the Opposition for everything. If there was any Opposition, which was worthy of being called an Opposition, this Bill would have never been passed in Parliament. It was passed because of the brute majority the ruling party enjoys. They talk about communists and the Congress, I want to ask how many states the Left is ruling right now? Are they really strong enough to cause and support such massive protests throughout the country? Really does the government want to give so much of credit to give these parties? I don’t think so.”

    He said, citing the example of the updating of National Registration of Citizens (NRC) in Assam, that the government should not have created panic among the people before the drafting of certain regulations of the NRC and the proper functioning of law. “A total of 19 lakh people were excluded from the NRC. These people have no place to go. They neither have the voting rights nor citizenship,” he said.

    On being asked about the way ahead, he said that negotiations are the only way forward. “The women of Shaheen Bagh have already invited the Prime Minister. Though it is a big request as we cannot demand the PM to come down and meet us, yet the government’s representatives, not the police, can come to this protest (at Shaheen Bagh) and explain the stand of the government. May be we have understood something very wrong. There is always a chance as there is a communication gap. The government can also issue an explanatory letter, instead of making blank statements and telling the protesters that they are wrong. I have read the Act, a lot of people have read it, lawyers – many of them practice in the Supreme Court, human rights activists and international bodies, a lot of them feel that it is wrong,” he explained.

    While talking about the reason why several bigwigs from the industry have chosen not to speak out, he said, “A lot of us are standing with those who are opposing this Act. And those who are not, some of them might be really convinced that the legislation is not what we think it is. And therefore, they might be supporting it. A lot of them are supporting and protesting in their own ways. So let’s not think and worry about those who are not speaking. Let’s think about those who are speaking.”

    Earlier, while addressing the agitating students of Jamia Millia Islamia, he said that it is good to see that the youth, students and women of the country have come forward and everyone is following them. “The time of grey-haired people is over now,” he said.

    “I and my family will continue to support you till our voices are heard and a solution is reached,” he said and added, “Every ‘Bagh’ (garden) has its place in rebellions in our country. Once there was Jallianwala Bagh, and now there is Shaheen Bagh. This Bagh has spread such a fire that now there is a Shaheen Bagh in every city of this country”.

    First published in Newsclick.

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