oppn parties CAA: Democratic Right To Protest Cannot Be Denied

News Snippets

  • SC says it will revisit its definition of 'Hindutva' in the light of growing hate speeches
  • Indigo reduces the flying ban on stand-up comic Kunal Kamra to three months after an inquiry committee finds that it was a Level 1 offense not meriting a 6-month ban
  • Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral says Delhi Police did not act on his phone call asking them to help 16 people trapped in riot-hit areas
  • AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, booked for murder and arson, says he is being framed
  • New HC bench allows the Delhi Police plea that the situation is no conducive to the filing of FIRs and also allows the Centre to become a party to the case
  • Justice S Muralidhar of the Delhi High Court, who was part of the bench that pulled up the Delhi Police for not filing FIRs against BJP leaders for hate speeches, transferred to Punjab HC
  • Two Special Investigation Teams (SITs) of Crime Branch in Delhi Police have been formed under DCP Joy Tirkey and DCP Rajesh Deo. The teams will immediately take over the investigations of the cases related to northeast Delhi violence. Both the teams will be under the supervision of BK Singh, additional commissioner of police (Crime Branch)
  • Sporadic violence was reported from riot-hit areas in the capital as the intensity of the madness seems to have abated. The death toll has risen to 37
  • Special DG (Training) in CRPF, S N Shrivastava, appointed special commissioner (law & order) in Delhi Police in order to quell the violence. He is also expected to take over as chief of Delhi police once Amulya Patnaik's term ends on February 29
  • Curfew and shoot at sight orders reportedly in force in some areas, but Delhi Police HQ does not issue a notice for the same
  • The Central government has pressed paramilitary forces to control the riots in Delhi
  • Mobs in Delhi target journalists, check them for religious identity and snatch equipment
  • 13 people deal until now in one of the worst spells of violence in Delhi
  • Violence in Delhi shows no signs of abating with fresh areas in the north-eastern part of the capital coming under its grip
  • Delhi High Court says DGCA was wrong in approving the flying ban on stand-up comic Kunal Kamra by airlines other than Indigo for his alleged misbehavior with TV anchor Arnab Goswami aboard an Indigo flight
Delhi Police file a case for murder and arson against Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain. Hussain is believed to have played a role in the murder of IB staffer Ankit Sharma whose body was found in Jafrabad
oppn parties
CAA: Democratic Right To Protest Cannot Be Denied

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2019-12-17 12:44:42

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.

The government is going on a wrong track in defending the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). The heavy-handedness displayed by the police in trying to silence the peaceful protests, first in Jamia Milia University in the capital and then in other campuses, has united the student community and hardened their resolve to oppose the Act. This is not the way to get support for CAA. The government should take pains to explain its position instead of using strong arm tactics or the Prime Minister asking the people to trust him or the party saying that the protests are motivated. 

The government has to understand that not everyone will be enamoured by its logic in amending the Act. The government has its agenda and reasons to amend the Act in the way it thinks.  The opposition and the student community, on the other hand, have the right to think differently and provide their own logic for opposing the same. In a democracy, there will be a hundred opinions that will not be in tune with what the government thinks. But using force to quell peaceful protests is undemocratic, unfair and obnoxious.

The Prime Minister has said repeatedly that the Congress is fanning the flames of protest. While that might be true to some extent, it must also be recognized that the Congress no longer holds sway over a large number of people in India. Hence, to think that it can instigate such huge protests all over the country is wrong. It also gives the impression that the government thinks there is nothing wrong with the amendments and people cannot have a different opinion. Modi also said that who is protesting is clear from their "clothes", alluding that the government thinks it is only Muslims who are against CAA.  Immediately, the student community started shirtless protests and placards came up saying "I am Hindu and against CAB". Once again it showed that the government does not know how to counter the protests and is trying to unnecessarily communalize the issue.

This is a dictatorial approach, as it was when the CAB was rushed through parliament without referring it to a select committee or giving a thought to the many modifications suggested by the opposition. Bulldozing legislations through the brute majority in the Lok Sabha and 'managed' majority in the Rajya Sabha might give the impression that the government has succeeded but it does not hold good omens for the future of democracy in the country. The opposition, though, has a lot to answer as to why it could not come together in the Rajya Sabha and prevent the CAB from getting through, especially when it was clear that the NDA was short of numbers and could have been beaten.

It is because of this reason that the street movement and protests now being carried out across the country become suspect. The opposition had its chance in the Rajya Sabha. But it failed. It failed to unite against CAB although most of the opposition parties said it was an assault on the constitution of the country. They failed in parliament and now they are showing their frustration by paralyzing the cities and towns and campuses of the country. Although they have the right to undertake democratic protests, they should ensure that it does not get polarized and violent. Moreover, they should wait for the Supreme Court to examine and decide whether the amendments violate the Constitution.