White is the new black: How anti-CAA protesters beat Wankhede ban

Updated: Jan 15, 2020, 07:33 IST | Pallavi Smart, Harit N Joshi | Mumbai

As Wankhede Stadium security confiscated placards, protesters sporting a letter each on their shirts combine to form 'No CAA, No NRC, No NPR'

The students protest at Wankhede stadium
The students protest at Wankhede stadium

As opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) continues to spread, students found a new way to protest. On Tuesday, a group of 20 youngsters raised their voice against the CAA, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR) through messages on their T-shirts, at the India-Australia ODI at the Wankhede.

They each wore a t-shirt with a letter of the alphabet. Even as posters etc were confiscated at the stadium and a spectator tweeted about his black cap also being disallowed, they managed to give out their message. As they cheered for India, they stood in perfect order, to spell out 'No CAA', 'No NPR' and 'No NRC.

"Mumbai's students decided to take their CAA protest to the game they love. The nature of the constitutional crisis the CAA poses demands bigger and larger audiences, something like the India-Australia cricket match offers. It was essential that the spectators and cricket lovers the world over know what kind of human rights crisis India is facing," said Fahad Ahmad, a PhD student at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences; who is playing a pivotal role in mobilising youngsters against CAA.

Posters confiscated at the ground. Pic/Harit N Joshi
Posters confiscated at the ground. Pic/Harit N Joshi

'Constitution sacred'
He added, "CAA is unconstitutional as it chooses people for citizenship based on their religion. Similarly, the NPR and NRC are anti-poor and anti-minorities and designed to delegitimise certain communities in the country. The Indian youths' patience has run out over this fascist BJP government and we will not allow such nefarious plans to succeed.

We love our country and its Constitution as was envisaged by Dr BR Ambedkar. That Constitution is not negotiable. We want the prime minister to just meet the youngsters once to understand what we want to say. We think our PM who supports sports might see us during the match and call us for discussion.' The former general secretary of the TISS Students' Union, also said, "For once, we firmly believe sports and politics cannot be separate."

But not everyone was of the opinion. As a spectator at the match said, "Around the 25th over, some spectators removed their shirts and started chanting slogans. They were students and seemed least interested in watching the match. They disturbed the environment in the stand. After a while, a security guard checked on them and then they were asked to wear their shirts back. They left before the Indian innings was completed." In the stand next to the protesting students, a group of people were also chanting "Modi, Modi," in support of the PM.

Was black banned?
The Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) swung into action later on Tuesday, after a tweet regarding a ban on black t-shirts and caps as a mark of protest regarding CAA at the stadium, went viral. While MCA officials and the Mumbai police denied any such ban on the colour, posters and placards were disallowed into the stadium. A top Mumbai police official categorically denied giving any instruction regarding banning black t-shirts and caps. "We haven't stopped any spectators wearing black. You can see there are many spectators wearing black clothes," the top cop told mid-day.

When informed about the tweet, the top cop said, "We haven't received any such complaint. There is private security involved as well. If there is anything objectionable, only then will the spectator not be allowed."

Rahul Desai, a columnist, who tweeted about his black cap being confiscated, said the incident happened at Gate No. 5 around noon. "It was a silly thing to do because it only made people ask more questions," Desai told mid-day.

Posters were seized
Posters, however, were confiscated. "It was a precautionary measure to not allow any spectators with posters, placards or flex banners. The decision was taken to maintain law and order," a top MCA official said. The official said no decision to ban the colour black was taken. But he said not allowing posters was advised by the police.

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