India has witnessed an outbreak of protests across the country and even abroad, ever since the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 came into force on 12 December. The police responded with brute force, leading to the death of several protesters in Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Assam, and a brutal crackdown against students, particularly in Aligarh Muslim University and Jamia Millia Islamia. As protests raged on in several cities, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government at the centre claimed that the police crackdown was in response to violent protests that were spurred by the Congress. On 15 December, while addressing a rally in Jharkhand, where a five-phase assembly election is currently ongoing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi remarked, “Those who are creating violence can be identified by their clothes”—ostensibly, a reference to the Muslim community.
The protests themselves, however, expose the blatant falsehoods of Modi’s comments. The protestors have visibly been from a range of communities. The Caravan spoke to ten protestors from Bengaluru, Mumbai, New York and Delhi about why they chose to protest.
Seth is a former student of Jamia Millia Islamia who attended a protest in Mumbai’s August Kranti Maidan on 19 December.
The news about the violence at JMI was devastating. I know for a fact that a lot of my friends did not sleep the night the violence happened, and then for nights on end. A lot of people cried all night—a couple of friends admitted it to me yesterday. These are the places where we have hung out at, chilled at and we never thought it would transform into war zones overnight. We never thought something like this could ever happen in Jamia.