Hundreds demonstrate in Northern California in protest of Citizenship Amendment Bill

Ishaq Khan, president of Indian American Muslim Community (IAMC)

Ritu Jha-

Several hundred people from across Northern California holding placards and shouting Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Isaiah (Christians) are brothers, the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) has to be abolished, and RSS out of India, at a protest hosted by the Bay Area Coalition of Concerned Citizens on Sun., Dec. 15, at the civic park in Santa Clara, California.

People attending the protests fear the Citizenship Amendment Bill(CAB) passed this week in India foretells a fatal blow to a secular society in India, attendees said. CAB provides a path to Indian citizenship for religious minorities, specifically Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians, but Muslims are excluded.

“We will never let India divide again,” Ahsan Khan, president of Indian American Muslim Community (IAMC), one the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 13 chapters across the US told attendees who came to show solidarity with minorities in India. “CAB is certainly dividing India on the religious minds, we definitely won’t not accept this at all.”

It’s unacceptable. India has a history of having a very rich heritage, and different communities living together, whether they are Muslim, Hindu, Sikhs, Christians, and that is the idea which we believe there should, Khan told those assembled.

“We strongly believe that there should be peace and pluralism, and secularism is very important in India,” Khan told indica on the sidelines of the protest. “And if we are hurting that secularism fabric then that is not acceptable. See the kinds of things are happening in India, we fear division of India.”

Referring to Amit Shah, India’s minister of Home Affairs who has been president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since 2014, Khan said, “He talked about all sects except Muslim, and that is concerning.”

Khan added that it is very much clear the CAB needs a lot of changes.

Bhajan Singh, of the Sikh Information Center, one of the main groups represented by the protests’ attendees, on the impact of protest on the Indian government, told indica, “Of course, the momentum is the indication of the level of oppression and the oppression indications a momentum here.”

“I think India is going to have a bright new future with the new awakening of all the minorities finally coming together and wanting a true, free India for everyone,” said Singh.

He said he believes the protest is not just against the CAB but the culmination of so many effects, including the oppression from Sikh Temple 1984 to Kashmir and abrogation of Article 370 and now CAB. So, CAB is one of the strokes that is making everybody nervous.

Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian affairs, told indica, “The oppression is  ongoing for years, and now we have the annexation of Kashmir and the future of India looks pretty grim.”

When he was asked about people saying he is controversial when it concerns India, Friedrich said, “ I love India, people, culture and food, and I am standing against supremacy of any kind, whether it’s RSS or BJP.”

Faisal Bhamban, representing the Kerala Muslim Community Association, said, “If it’s passed, it can be unpassed and revoked and just because the mistake has been made.”

“And the next step of BJP is national register of citizens (NRC) and CAB combined are poisonous mixture,” he said.

The environment in India and these things have happened before on a nationwide scale, In India in 1984 was the Sikh Massacre. or genocide, and in 1992 and we have seen Gujarat and in 2002, all these are happening state forces, he said.

Fauzia Jalali, of Kashmir, came to the protest to show solidarity with minorities in India, said Kashmir has been facing difficulties for the past 72 years and to be fragmented, polarized and disfranchised, and we will fight against barbaric CAB law which is completely not right. It’s draconian, she said.

“It’s discriminatory and very destructive,” said Jalali.

Karthik Ramanathan said he is a supporter of many organizations and is against any oppression and war.

“I really  feel as an Indian, we got independence, and we want to live in a country which is home to everybody. We got freedom after lots of struggle, and India is a home to everybody despite colonialism and partition, “ said Ramanathan. “This is  going back to dark period. We have the caste system, and we never seen any recent memory where the government actively seeks to go to a place where no human can dream to go… in a dark evil place. You are denying citizenship based on their religion.”


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