Gujarat scribe Nachiketa Desai, fasting against CAA, thrown out of Sabarmati Ashram, picked up by police
The present day democratically elected BJP governments of Gujarat and the Centre seem to be more scared of Mahatma Gandhi’s disciples than even the colonialists were scared of Gandhi himself
Sabarmati Ashram is a natural venue for a person moulded in Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals to sit on a protest against state repression and draconian laws. It was from here that Gandhi had launched the famous Salt Satyagrah.
Therefore, it was natural for journalist, activist and Gandhian Nachiketa Desai to sit down in a corner of Bapu’s ashram when he decided to lodge a peaceful protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the police brutality unleashed on the protesters in BJP-ruled states including Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Delhi.
Bapu had done innumerable peaceful protests like this. But what even the colonial British spared Gandhi, the Constitutionally elected government of Gujarat did not to Nachiketa Desai.
On Wednesday morning, Desai reached the Sabarmati Ashram and sat on a protest fast. As the word spread, the Ashram management came rushing and bundled Desai out of the Ashram in no time, not ready to listen to any reasoning from Desai.
“I was forced out of Gandhi Ashram by the Ashram trustee Kartikeya Sarabhai and made to squat on the pavement outside to continue my fast against police violence on peaceful protesters against CAA throughout the country. From the pavement I have been brought to Ranip police station. My fast to continue till December 31,” Desai wrote on his Facebook wall and shared some pictures of him being escorted out of the Ashram like a persona non grata.
Ironically, the Gandhi Ashram is the place where Nachiketa’s grandfather Mahadev Desai spent years. Mahadev Desai was a freedom fighter, writer and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi. He is remembered as Mahatma Gandhi's personal secretary.
Having been thrown out of the Ashram, Nachiketa then squatted on a pavement outside the Ashram, all by himself. But that didn’t continue for long either. Soon the police came and picked him from there. He was detained at Ranip police station for three hours.
The police didn’t tell him as to what law he had violated or under what law he had been picked up but instead asked him to sign an undertaking that he would not continue with his protest. He refused.
“I am continuing my fast despite having been thrown out from the Satyagraha Ashram, Sabarmati and illegally detained by the police for three hours. The police asked me to sign an undertaking that I shall not continue my fast at a public place. I refused to give any such undertaking. The police let me go with the warning to face consequence if I continued with my fast. The venue of my fast may change but not my resolve.
“DOWN WITH CAA/NRC. DOWN WITH MODI-SHAH-YOGI FOR UNLEASHING A REIGN OF TERROR USING THE POLICE AND RSS GOONS ON PEACEFUL PROTESTERS,” he updated on social media.
Nachiketa found support on social media.
Pratik Sinha, co-founder, Alt News tweeted: Under which law has Nachiketa Desai been detained? A single person cannot sit on the pavement outside Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad and protest? 144 doesn't apply, as he was an individual protesting.
Interestingly, the present day democratically elected Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Gujarat and the Centre seems to be more scared of Mahatma Gandhi’s disciples than even the colonialists were scared of Gandhi himself.
The newly-enacted Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) grants Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis who arrived in India from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before January 1, 2015. The law conspicuously excludes the Muslims and has therefore drawn widespread flak from legal experts, political parties, rights activists and sections of national and international media.