Global Voices

In Kerala, millions form human chain to protest India's ‘anti-muslim’ citizenship laws

Screenshot from YouTube Video by indusdotnews.

Human Chain in Kerala. Screenshot from YouTube Video by indusdotnews.

On 26 January, on the Republic Day of India, several millions of people formed a 620 km human chain from the north to the south of Kerala demanding the withdrawal of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA), promulgated in December 2019, provides a path to citizenship for non-Muslim immigrants from the neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. However, it has drawn criticism from civil society organizations and the opposition for unfairly excluding Muslims. The Citizenship Amendment Act, combined with the nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC), is deemed to be disastrous, not only for the minority Muslims, but also all other Indians.

The human chain event was organised by Left Democratic Front (LDF), a coalition of left-wing political parties led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and its leader, the Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan.

Note: Malaylalis = People from Kerala speaking the Malayalam language. Sanghis = Followers of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), a right-wing, Hindu nationalist, paramilitary volunteer organisation.

The crowd included politicians, cultural activists, religious leaders, artists and concerned citizens. Social media accounts were flooded with colorful images and videos from the protest:

Note: “Hum Dekhenge” = We will see.

The Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan joined the protests and said in a statement:

The citizenship law will endanger the Constitution and destroy peace in the country since their (the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s) intention is to destroy secularism. We have already declared that Kerala is not the place to accept the new citizenship regime.

He also shared this tweet:

Thousands of people formed an 11km long human chain in Kolkata, the capital of the state of West Bengal on the same day.

Republic Day honours the date (26 January 1950) on which the Constitution of India came into effect and turned the nation into a newly formed republic. On this day, India saw protests across the country that accuse the CAA of being detrimental to a key component of the constitutional value system — envisioning a secular India.

Read our special coverage: Who is paying the cost of India’s declining democracy? for more details on the protests against the citizenship laws in India.

Originally published in Global Voices.

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