Anti-CAA protesters march from Downing Street to the Indian High Commission in London last month. (PTI)
Protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) that are taking part in several parts of the country are also finding an echo abroad, sources said. The Indian diaspora will gather in several places across Europe and also in the US to voice their protests on January 26. Also, on February 1, a protest will be held in front of the United Nations headquarters in Geneva from noon to 3 pm. The protesters in these foreign countries mainly comprise students and research scholars.
A student from Geneva said police permission for the February 1 protest has already been acquired. “We will start our protest from noon in front of the UN, commonly known as Broken Chair Compound. We have started our campaign on social networking sites and other platforms. However, everyone is taking steps discreetly as we have heard that the authorities of the Indian embassy are trying to keep a surveillance on us,” she said on conditions of anonymity.
A pamphlet is being circulated urging protesters to unite in front of the UN. “We, a group of Indians in Europe (Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, Finland, and France) have organised a protest at the United Nations, Geneva on the 1st of February. There have been several protests all over Europe and the idea was to unite at the UN. We stand against the CAA on grounds that it violates our Constitution and goes against the secular nature of our country. We also stand against the possible implementation of NRC. It is inhumane, un-necessary, arbitrary, prone to be being abused, and will disproportionately affect the minority communities, and poor people in our country. We condemn the brutal attacks on protesters by the UP and the Delhi police, and we stand in solidarity with the protesters in India.”
According to Hamberg-based MSc student, Trishita Banerjee, the CAA and NRC were “unconstitutional and not secular enough”. She said, “Both CAA and NRC are dividing our nation in terms of religion. Germany already saw this type of autocracy. We don’t want it to repeat in India. That is why we are coming out on the streets to protest and many in Hamberg are supporting us.”
A woman professional from Cologne in Germany said: “After police brutality in Jamia and attack on students in JNU, many people here in Germany felt that we should also pitch our protest. From December 18 onwards, protest started at different places in Europe. We first gathered in front of the Indian Embassy in Berlin on December 21. That was a pan-German protest. Nearly 250 people took part in the protest against CAA and NRC.”
She said, “Already cities like Berlin, Cologne, Aachen, Bonn, Heidelberg, Erfurt, Göttingen, Munich, Hamberg, and Frankfurt have witnessed protests against CAA and NRC.”
A Poland-based Indian social scientist said, “We want to celebrate diversity and secularism on January 26. So, we will resist and reject the extremist attitude of the government as well as those who are supporting this ideology. We don’t want to tolerate hatred or religious discrimination. We also express our solidarity to every student who has been attacked.” She also plans to take part in the Geneva protest on February 1. “I will go to Geneva to protest in front of the United Nations. People from all over Europe will stand together there.”
Students and research scholars will also organise protests in the US on January 26. Sagnik Das, who is pursuing his PhD at The City University of New York, said: “We are Indians. No matter where we are, we have to raise our voice if our Constitution is under attack.” He also made an appeal on Facebook urging people to take part in a protest on January 26. “In order to uphold the Constitution, in order to raise your voice against the anti-constitutional, anti-Indian CAA, NRC, NPR, join in large numbers in this protest. Let our voices echo from the big apple to the halls of the Indian parliament,” he wrote.