Anti-CAA protests: Actors, activists join hands, come together in Andheri

Updated: Jan 13, 2020, 07:22 IST | Gaurav Sarkar | Mumbai

Thousands gather outside Andheri's Millat Nagar on Sunday afternoon under the banner 'Hum Bharat Ke Log', recite Faiz's 'Hum Dekhenge'

Actor Sushant Singh speaks at the protest at Millat Nagar Colony in Andheri West. Pics/ Sameer Markande
Actor Sushant Singh speaks at the protest at Millat Nagar Colony in Andheri West. Pics/ Sameer Markande

Chanting slogans of 'Azadi' and singing Urdu poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz's 'Hum Dekhenge', that was recently claimed to be anti-Hindu, Mumbaikars gathered in Millat Nagar area of Andheri West to protest against the CAA and NRC on Sunday. They were joined by actors Sushant Singh and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, who encouraged the agitators to continue their movement against what he called a "fascist regime" of the country.

The protest, attended by residents of Millat Nagar, Yamuna Nagar, Lokhandwala and Oshiwara, was organised by the members of 'Hum Bharat Ke Log', a front that organised the first protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Mumbai on December 19 and has been leading the agitation since.

At the gathering, citizens raised their voice through music and cultural performances. Urdu poem 'Hum Dekhenge' — which Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur had decided to investigate to determine if it is anti-Hindu but later dropped the idea following criticism — was sung by the protesters, who also chanted 'Azadi' and 'Jai Bharat, Jai Samvidhan' slogans.

Millat Nagar residents stage a peaceful demonstration against CAA, NRC on SundayMillat Nagar residents stage a peaceful demonstration against CAA, NRC on Sunday

TV actor Sushant Singh, who hosted crime show 'Saavdhaan India' before being recently removed allegedly for his anti-CAA stance, addressed the people with a powerful poetry that spoke of Hindu-Muslim unity.

Bollywood actor Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub raised the spirit of the crowd by encouraging them to keep fighting against the fascist regime of the nation. With chants of 'Inquilab', he began, "There are so many people on the street right now, fighting for the unity of this country. These people are scared. Your slogans have got them worried. They are changing their statement every day. Now they are blaming the political parties of inciting the students' movement. I ask, where do you see the flag of political parties? We are carrying the Indian flag. Your flag has just one colour, while ours have three."

Among the speakers on Sunday was a teenage resident of Millat Nagar, Lavisa Ansari, who said, "What India needs is a comprehensive refugee policy for illegal immigrants. It [India] needs to sign the UN's National Refugee Program, and needs better policing on borders."

Feroze Mithiborwala, national committee member of 'Hum Bharat Ke Log', said Mumbai has the responsibility of ensuring the pan-India anti-CAA movement meets its goal. He added, "Soon, we will protest at Shivaji Park too, and will be joined by the Thackeray family as well. This fight is to save India from Modi's fascist regime." Fahad Ahmad, another panel member of 'Hum Bharat Ke Log', addressed the Muslim women seated near the stage and said, "From Shaheen Bagh to here, you have given us hope, keep this alive. We will definitely unite India."

'We're merely amplifiers'

A few kilometres away, in Versova's Aram Nagar, Bollywood actor Swara Bhasker along with Dr Kafeel Khan, the suspended assistant professor of Gorakhpur's BRD Medical College, held a closed door meeting with the prominent members of the anti-CAA movement.

Mumbaikars protest against CAA and NRC at Millat Nagar, Andheri West, on SundayMumbaikars protest against CAA and NRC at Millat Nagar, Andheri West, on Sunday

Speaking to mid-day on a short walk to her car, Bhasker said the narrative around the CAA changed "since December 15, when students across the country started uniting and protesting against CAA, NRC and NPR, along with JNU hostel fee hike. Despite atrocities at JNU and AMU, students and citizens have found a common ground to continue the protest." She also applauded Deepika Padukone for taking a stand by joining the JNU protesters, but she believes "we need to wary and not allow the movement to become about celebrity participation."

When asked what the anti-CAA movement's future looks like, she said, "The matter is in the Supreme Court now and will be heard on January 22. I hope that justice is done. As for our part, we have to make sure that we reach out to communities and spread awareness among the mass. We [actors] are simply playing the role of an amplifier."

Dec 19
When protest began in Mumbai

Jan 22
SC will hear anti-CAA petitions

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