Time the government heard people's voices

Updated: Dec 20, 2019, 06:55 IST | The Editorial | Mumbai

More important was the fact that it was not only Muslims, who will be directly affected by the twin laws, but also the youth cutting across religions who were at the forefront of the protests

The nationwide protests against the Citizenship Act reached Mumbai's shores on Thursday. It was heartening to see the turnout of largely young students, protesting against what is essentially an exclusionary piece of law, once a National Register of Citizens is put in place.

More important was the fact that it was not only Muslims, who will be directly affected by the twin laws, but also the youth cutting across religions who were at the forefront of the protests.

Mumbai police, often rightly pilloried for their various shortcomings, for once did a great job of managing the gathering, and ensuring the protests did not take an ugly turn like they did in Uttar Pradesh and Mangalore. Nor did they display highhandedness and apply prohibitory orders like the police shamefully did in the two metros of Bengaluru and New Delhi.

Some may point to the fact that there is a Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP government to explain Mumbai police's restraint, but credit should be given where it is due, especially since the turnout was so large.

Finally, if a city like Mumbai, which is looked down upon by denizens of other metros for its apathy, rose to the challenge, a large part of the credit goes to its students and youngsters. From mobilising support to galvanising the protesters on Thursday, to ensuring that everything went without any untoward incident, all praise goes to the student community.

At a national level, several cities witnessed huge turnouts against the CAA. Already, several states have taken stands against the Act. There are now two options before the central government.

First, they could admit that it was all an ill-conceived move and humbly accept the fact that they don't have the support of the citizens of India, and roll it back.

Or, second, they could ignore the loud voices of protest and treat the rest of the country like they have treated Kashmir for some months now — by doubling down and forcing the law on the citizens. If they go the second route, the repercussions — and cost — for the nation will be something that no one can afford.

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