In the wake of the Indian government passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in both the houses of parliament and the Home Minister’s statement saying that next in line will be The National Register of Citizens (NRC). There have been country wide protests from all corners for the past week or so and the NRIs of many countries have joined the protests too. In America, these were coordinated and held in many US cities like Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Fremont on Saturday at 11 am.
I was present outside the Fremont library in Northern California where a large crowd gathered and the representation was conspicuous from NRIs belonging to many states of India. I talked to a 70-year-old man and when asked why he joined the protests he said, “I am a Hindu and grew up in a secular society, I see the government’s ploy to dilute the secular feature of our country. I have been to many countries like, Dubai, Germany, Australia, and Singapore before I settled in USA. Through my personal experiences I can tell you that, if India needs to progress, there should be peace and harmony among the people of all religions and that is only possible if India respects all the religions equally.”
Hundreds of people from all ethnic walks showed up on short notice to be part of the protest. Men, women, children, and seniors were all there seen together. First generation, second generation, and third generation Americans of Indian origin attended the event. Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Atheists were all there. The weather was not bright and sunny like a usual California day but cloudy and cool. The protesters were organized, holding placards and Indian flags with pride and some even held US flags. The creativity of the Bay Area came in handy which could be seen clearly in placards with memes and suggestions to the government. One of the speakers, Shanthi said, “We don’t want to be silent, neither do we want to be violent. We will register our protests to make sure our country remains secular.”
Pieter Friedrich from the Bay Area who specializes in the analysis of historical and current affairs of South Asia was there and addressed the crowd. He compared the present majoritarian government of India with the Nazis of Germany and mentioned that RSS in India was formed in the year 1925 to create a Hindu theocratic state. He further said that the leaders of RSS had praised the Nazi policies like the Nuremberg laws in the past and RSS with their direct control of government is ramming through its own saffronized version of the Nuremberg laws. Today, the CAB and NRC combined set the stage for the alienation of India and they are trying to demonize Muslims exactly like the Nazis did to the Jews.
(His speech via twitter link)
A Muslim man who wanted to remain anonymous, said that he was a citizen of India by choice and not by chance. He got emotional when he said that although he got his Green Card almost 8 years ago, he still didn’t opt to be a citizen of USA as he would then have to surrender his Indian nationality/passport.
Another Sikh gentleman said that Sikhs have always been on the forefront, be it for charity or sacrifice. We stand united here and want to pledge our full support to Indian Muslims who are on the verge of alienation by the government.
A Hindu speaker started his speech by saying “My name is Santosh and I am not an Urban Naxal…” which was well received by the audiences. He further said that he was a practicing Hindu and he despises the BJP as much I despises Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen ( MIM ).
He went on by saying:
“We wanted them to work on bettering the schools, they ignored.
We wanted them to fix our broken health care systems, they allocated no money.
We wanted them to bring strict rape laws, they mocked at us.
We wanted them to end corruption, they threatened us.
We wanted them to work on the economy, they hooted us.
We wanted them to create employment opportunities, they deleted the real data from the official website.”
”Overnight, they brought in the CAB and got it passed in both the houses of the parliament and made it an act. How is it more important than the real issues we asked them to work on?”
“The strategy is clear that they want to bring something controversial and emotional every 6 months or a year, that will keep us busy and the real issues are diverted. They want to polarize our society and divide us Hindus and Muslims to remain in power for ever. But, we Indians – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains need to be united and make sure our country is secular, for the only way the country can progress is through unity, peace, and harmony in the society.”
Few slogans that caught my attention:
“India Zindabad. India Zindabad.”
“India tere 4 Sipahi,
Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Ishahi.”
[India your 4 soldiers: Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Isaiah (Christians)]
The Azadi anthem of Kanhaiah Kumar showed the best in them as they were fully charged before they wrapped up the event by singing Indian national anthem and American national anthem.