The surge of protests in every corner of the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens will be remembered as an iridescent, significant moment in the journey of the republic. This is because these are, at their core, popular moral assertions founded on fraternity of the kind we have not seen for a long time. People are spilling onto the streets offering hope, solidarity and reassurance to those threatened by the politics of hate and fear. The protests mark a collective rejection of the toxic politics and policies that have come to dominate our public life in recent years.
The ruling establishment has responded with its well-used playlist of attempting to communalise and discredit the protestors; to confuse people with falsehoods; and to deploy crushing state force. But this time, none of it is working. The police brutalised students in the two national universities identified with India’s Muslim heritage, Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University. But the same night that news filtered in of injured Jamia students rounded up in police stations in Delhi, spontaneously large crowds gathered in the cold night outside the police headquarters and various police stations, and they refused to move until the police was forced to release the students. Students and faculty from more than 50 universities around the country gave their support. Sleep-deprived lawyers keep vigil every night outside police stations where protesters are detained. Read More