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Modi cancels Assam visit as protests continue

Modi cancels Assam visit as protests continue

NEW DELHI: In a series of setbacks to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) zeal to implement a controversial law on citizenship, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been forced to cancel his trip to Assam, reports said on Wednesday.

They said Mr Modi was advised not to visit the state, which is under a veritable siege and where he was due to inaugurate a sporting event. The BJP called a meeting of Christian leaders to win them over in the nationwide battle over Citizenship Amendment Act.

The Christian leaders tersely told the BJP to read the Indian constitution and follow it. On Wednesday, the BJP called to boycott a movie starring Deepika Padukone after she joined a students’ protest against state-sponsored violence at the Jawaharlal Nehru University.

The social media responded with unusual rage against the call, forcing a government minister to row back on the call. As Information Minister Prakash Javadekar rushed to control the damage, he said: “Why only artistes, any common man can go anywhere to express an opinion, there cannot be an objection.”

An unusually outspoken Anurag Kashyap, film director and writer, blamed the Modi government for dividing citizens into patriots and traitors. “There are only two groups of people for the government, patriots and traitors,” he told India Today TV.

“Whoever agrees with them is a patriot and whoever questions them is dubbed a traitor,” he said. He said Prime Minister Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have accorded legitimacy to ruffians and motivated them to take on the so-called ‘enemies’ of the nation within the country.

These ruffians, he said, are so excited and so willing to engage in violence that they genuinely believe that they are fulfilling a national service by beating up students, intellectuals, Muslims and other critics of the government. Referring to a large number of film personalities not attending the dinner for them hosted by the BJP, Kashyap pointed out that not attending the event was also a statement.

“People may be silent but they do talk, they do discuss… they may not have reached their limits of tolerance but I have,” he added. As Kashyap spoke, protesters, braving rain and cold, continued their agitation at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh for the 25th consecutive day on Wednesday, as two of them, who are on liquid diet, remained at the centre stage demanding withdrawal of the contentious citizenship legislation.

Zainul Abidin, around 45, in December had launched his hunger strike to protest against the communal citizenship act. He was joined by Mehrunnisa, around 40, over a week ago. Besides them, a trio of elderly women, now famously known as the “Dabang Dadis” of Shaheen Bagh, have stayed put at the protest venue in South East Delhi since December 15.

Since Wednesday morning, hundreds of people remained at the venue.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2020

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