Is south India really protesting CAA?

Chennai: While many northern States and cities witnessed protests against the Centre’s Citizenship Amendment Act, their south Indian counterparts were no exception.

The Chief Ministers themselves (Pinarayi Vijayan and Narayanasamy) are opposed to the Act in Kerala and Puducherry, the principal opposition DMK led by M K Stalin got vociferous over the issue in Tamilnadu, and protests took violent turn resulting in the death of two in Karnataka. The two Telugu speaking States- Andhra Pradesh and Telangana- too had seen agitations.

But, the Bharatiya Janata Party, right-wing thinkers, celebrities including superstar Rajinikanth and many members of the public are not happy with the protests and some of them even see the handiwork of vested interests behind the rallies and subsequent violent acts.

A mediaperson who covered a protest by a section of students in Chennai, puts it like this: ”I randomly asked five youngsters who were at the agitation to explain me about either CAA or NRC. Three of them were blank. Two of them said they were told by their seniors that Muslims would be sent out of country. If this is the case of students of a premier institution in Chennai, you can imagine how the youth in other parts of the State would have been misled”.

BJP Tamilnadu unit secretary K T Raghavan wants to know which part of CAA is against Muslim citizens of India, as alleged by the opposition parties. ”They are indulging in false campaign on the issue just to gain political mileage and to turn people against the BJP government,” says Raghavan.

According to him, the ruling BJP government is only implementing all its poll promises. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah had made it clear that the Act would in no way affect Indians, he said and accused the DMK, Congress and the Communist Parties of playing a double game on this issue to secure the votes of Muslims.

BJP national secretary H Raja asks students not to participate in the protests. ”The DMK would bring them to streets in the name of protests and leave them on the streets. It doesn’t have real concern for Muslims. They should not fall prey to the evil designs of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam,” he says.

Raja, who participated in the party’s demonstration in Chennai in support of the CAA, says the BJP would take forward campaign to expose Congress and DMK. He adds that the BJP would go door-to-day to unmask those people, who are all having sinister intentions to set the whole nation on fire. He also justifies police firing at a recent protest in Mangaluru by saying authorities will not respond kind to attacks with guns or bricks.

”They wanted to kill hundreds of people. So police had no other go. They had to resort to firing. The protesters’ intention was to set the whole country on fire. The policemen were attacked,” he adds.

In Karnataka, Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa had firmly said that CAA would be implemented in the State. At the same time, he assured the Muslim community that their interests would be protected by the BJP government in the State.

Yediyurappa is not the only Chief Minister from the south to support the Act. For, his Tamilnadu counterpart Edappadi K Palaniswami, whose party the AIADMK voted in support of the CAB in Parliament, too backs it.

Defending the AIADMK’s support for the Citizenship Amendment Act, he hit out at DMK president Stalin for blaming the ruling party in the issue.

”Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as Home Minister Amit Shah had clarified that the Act would in no way affect Indian nationals. The act has been brought only for the benefit of refugees and Indian citizens need not worry.”

With the DMK saying citizenship should be granted to Sri Lankan Tamils, the CM says, ”Time and again, the AIADMK has argued for dual citizenship for Lankan Tamil refugees. We have submitted a memorandum to the Centre in this regard. During the debate on the Citizenship Amendment Bill, AIADMK MPs had urged the Centre to grant dual citizenship for Lankan Tamils.”

Even as protests rocked various parts of the country, actor Rajinikanth, who is expected to start his political party soon, said violence should not be the route to solve any problem. In a tweet, he said, ”Indian people should be united and alert with security and welfare of the nation in their minds.” Rajinikanth added the ongoing violence in the country pains him.

Reacting to Rajinikanth’s tweet, Seeman, the founder of NMK party, asked the superstar to spell out his views on CAA.Pointing out Rajinikanth’s tweet, Seeman also added that it is insulting the students who are protesting against CAA braving suppression. DMK leader TKS Elangovan says CAA and NRC are against minorities.

However, the important statement on CAA issue from Tamilnadu comes from M Ibrahim, State president of Tamilnadu Ekathuva Prachara Jamaat. He says, ”my brothers and sisters in Muslim community should understand that Muslims in India have got nothing to worry about CAA. I request them to read the features of the Act before coming to any conclusion. I also request them not to fall prey to false propaganda. Some parties are misleading us. Let us all come together and work together for the betterment of our country.”

M Bhaskar Sai