In Gujarat, school children being forced to write letters of support on CAA to the PMO

Unnerved by protests even in the home state of the Prime Minister and the Home Minister, BJP leaders are forcing school children to write letters of support to the PMO

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah (PTI)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party chief Amit Shah (PTI)

Rajeev Khanna

School children in Gujarat are being asked to write letters of support on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). They were earlier made to send postcards of support on Triple Talaq.

While Gujarat Government officials have denied having issued any such instruction, they are said to have been orally communicated by local level BJP functionaries.

Schoolchildren are being asked to copy a text written on the blackboard in classrooms. A letter in circulation by anonymous sources (see pic) asks each school to ensure that at least 50 postcards in ‘neat handwriting’ be sent to the PMO.

While BJP leaders in Gujarat are shying away from joining the debate on CAA, NPR and NRIC, an unofficial ban seems to be in force on protests against the Government’s contentious and controversial moves on citizenship.

In Gujarat, school children being forced to write letters of support on CAA to the PMO
In Gujarat, school children being forced to write letters of support on CAA to the PMO
In Gujarat, school children being forced to write letters of support on CAA to the PMO

Processions in support of the Government are being allowed by Gujarat Police, even as protests against the Government are being denied permission.

Says a prominent social activist Rohit Prajapati, “They are spooked after finding a large number of Hindus protesting. Had it just been Muslims, they would not have bothered. But seeing Hindus of all castes standing up against the BJP game plan to divide the people, they developed cold feet.”

Prajapati maintains that BJP leaders in Gujarat are confused over the issue. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah have added to the confusion by speaking in different voices in Parliament, in election rallies and by changing their tune in the last fortnight.

“We have been asking BJP leaders to join us for panel discussions on the issue before the public, but they have been avoiding it,” he added.

Concurs lawyer Shamshad Pathan. “They were shocked to find that out of the 81 people detained at Gujarat University, only nine were Muslims,” he said.

Meanwhile, five citizens, including a Professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM-A) have petitioned the Gujarat High Court challenging the city Police Commissioner’s orders for the continued imposition of Section 144 of CrPC and Section 37 of the Bombay Police Act across the city.

The petitioners are learnt to have pleaded that continuous imposition of these sections has made the city of Ahmedabad an indefinite war zone, putting citizens under permanent danger. The petitioners have challenged the constitutional validity of the move and the Police Commissioner’s jurisdiction. The petition is to be heard by the High Court on January 9.

The Vadodara unit of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in a hard-hitting statement posed several questions to the BJP Government in Gujarat:

  • Why this fear and paranoia about peaceful protests?
  • How can Section 144 of CrPc be imposed permanently?
  • If unarmed students’ and citizens’ demonstrations are not being allowed, why are pro CAA demonstrations being permitted?

The statement went on to state, “While the country’s youth have touched new heights, the political masters have been in a hurry to touch new lows. Between the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and various party spokespersons and their flip flops, nobody anymore knows who is speaking the truth, whether NRC will happen or not or whether NRC and NPR are two disparate processes or if they are different names of the same animal.”

“In any case this government’s track record on information sharing and transparency is dismal, whether it is farmer suicides, GDP growth, MUDRA loans, employment generated or what was achieved through demonetisation.”

The statement added, “The ability and power of the people is not only limited to the right of vote, but it extends further and provides us the right to participate in a democratic system by observing, suggesting and discussing, contemplating, questioning, negotiating and dissenting its system or function in various circumstances.”

Another social activist Mukhtar Mohammad said, “Despite the moves to crush dissent, protests are taking place in Ahmedabad, Idar, Godhara, Palanpur, Bharuch and Bhavnagar among other places. People are getting aware that it is not just one community that is being targeted. It could be anyone tomorrow.”

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Published: 3 Jan 2020, 7:26 PM