West Bengal comes out in large numbers against the CAA and NRC

CM Mamata Banerjee has begun an official state-wide protest against the NRC


On December 20, 2019, Kolkata witnessed another peaceful protests against the anti-constitutional Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Organised by the All India Trinamool Congress and presided over by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, the protest saw people not just from the city, but also outside the country, be a part of the movement. Teachers, lawyers, techies, electricians, the youth, the people of India were all part of the rally either alone or with friends and family.




The Telegraph spoke to a group of professors who were rallying against the CAA / NRC. Nikita Sud, an associate professor of development studies who was in Kolkata to deliver a lecture at the Presidency University. Holding a poster that read, “Might is not Right”, she said, “I wrote a book called Liberalization, Hindu Nationalism and the State, which followed Mr Modi’s career from the time he became chief minister of Gujarat. And that sort of authoritarian, centralising push from the top is very much continuing, on a national scale.”

Another professor Himika Chatterjee, who was carrying a placard that read “Dear PM, can you tell from my clothes?” taking a jibe at the PM’s comment where he targeted the minorities saying that the people who engaged in violence could be identified by their attire.

A professor of law at Oxford, Dev Gangjee said, “The idea of India as a secular country is under threat. If we don’t do something now, history has taught what will happen.” The poster he was carrying read: “This CAB will take us all for a ride.”

Another professor from the University of California, Rishi Chaudhari said they were here because, even though they lived abroad, they were Indian at heart and were deeply concerned with the happenings in the country.


A group of professors at the rally (Picture – The Telegraph)

A TCS techie, Shabal Baig, originally from Lucknow, took a break off work to be a part of the rally. Again, wondering how the PM could make such a communal comment using attire as a tool. He said, I don’t wear a skull cap or a lungi. I offer namaaz every day. That is how my friends are…. How could Modiji say ‘Unke kapdon se pata chal jata hai’ and make such a generalisation? This is Islamophobia and all these result from that mentality.” Scared for the future of Muslims in India, he added, “I am the only Muslim at my workplace…. I can see how this regime is trying to exclude Muslims from the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. I am scared and thought it’s time we opposed these laws tooth and nail.”

Shabal Baig (Picture – The Telegraph)

Mohammed Ashraf Ali, an electrician who came in for the rally with his wife and daughter was found to be attentively listening to what CM Banerjee was saying. He told The Telegraph, “There are thousands of people who have gathered here to voice their protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. There are both Muslims and Hindus. Are these voices not reaching Narendra Modi and Delhi?”

Echoing the sentiments of all citizens of the country who felt it was unfair for them to produce citizenship documents after bringing the government in power, he said, “We have been living here for generations. After so many years, why should we produce more documents?” Tabassum, his wife too, too questioned the regime saying, “If we don’t fight for our rights now, when will we?”

Mohammed Ashraf Ali with his wife Tabassum Begum and daughter Aisha Tarannum (Picture – The Telegraph)

Teachers too, though silent, let their feelings echo through the words on the posters. The poster that the oldest teacher in the group, Zeenat Shamim, was carrying read: “Hum Paper Se Hindustani Nahi/Hum Khoon Se Hindustani Hai (We are not Indians on paper, we are Indians by blood)”.

A young teacher was carrying a poster that read, “We Are All in One Race / The Human Race / So Don’t Let / Race Disconnect Us / Religion Separate Us / Politics Divide Us.”

Ghazala Shaheen, another teacher in the group said, “We don’t want any division between Hindus and Muslims. But exactly that is happening now. Many of my friends have expressed their opposition to attempts at converting India into a Hindu state on social media. Such voices are being throttled…. After seeing how students of Jamia Millia Islamia were beaten up by police, we cannot remain quiet as teachers…. We are the future of our country, not Narendra Modi or Amit Shah.”

She held a poster that read, “Waqt aane pe bata denge tujhe aye aasmaan / hum abhi se kya batayein kya humare dil mein hai (Oh sky, I will tell you when the time comes/How do I say now what is in my heart)”.


The group of teachers (Picture – The Telegraph)

In 2016, when the PM thrust the menace of demonetization in the country, people had to stand in line to exchange currency. Recollecting that horrific time she said, “When demonetisation was imposed on us, we had to stand in queues for hours. We don’t want to stand in queues again to prove our existence,” Shaheen said. We, too, have sacrificed for our country and we will protest in a non-violent way because we are followers of Mahatma Gandhi.”




CM Mamata Banerjee had been the first politician to vociferously oppose the CAA and NRC to be imposed by the Modi government. She has been leading rallies throughout the state and started on official rallies starting December 23rd , reported The Telegraph. At the Park Circus Maidan rally she asked, They did not give any time for discussion and deliberation on the CAB (now CAA). Such an important Bill, they passed it at midnight on the very day that they tabled it (in the Lok Sabha). They are misusing their majority in the Lok Sabha. If the CAB is that good, then why did the Prime Minister not vote for it?”

She also urged the PM to not make the CAA and NRC implementation an ego issue saying, “Sometimes in a democracy, one must bow their head before a mass protest. This is not about victory or defeat, but about the nation and its people. The entire country is ablaze with hurt and rage against the anti-people CAA and NRC… As the Prime Minister, he must take steps to restore normality. Don’t let this become about ego…. You (Modi) don’t even have to bow your head, just say that the CAA stands rejected.”

10 states including Kerala, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar and Chhattisgarh have joined West Bengal to officially boycott the CAA and NRC.

These unprecedented protests have led to the BJP backtracking a little, with indulging in gaffes like the PM saying there are no detention centres in India, even when official party documents state to show there are 6 currently operating in Assam. BJP also deleted the all-India NRC comment by Amit Shah from its official Twitter handle and is now set to confuse people with the PM saying no official mentions of an all-India NRC were ever made in Parliament, even when there is evidence to the contrary.

Protests have gained full steam not only in India, but also abroad where Indians and people from other nationalities have begun to understand the divisive agenda of the Modi-Shah government. With dissenters refusing to be silenced, whether the CAA will be revoked and the NRC scrapped, only time will tell.


Anti-CAA protest in Dharavi sees more than 25,000 people march for equal rights
Over 25000 people gather in Mumbai to oppose CAA
They came wearing clothes of harmony: Mumbai’s Dec 19
After Mumbai; Nagpur, Pune and Kurla show the way against CA, NPR-NRC



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