Kolkata: December 11, was the first anniversary of the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by the Indian parliament. While many cities of India, including Kolkata, witnessed protest against the controversial bill, protests and resolutions took place even in the United States against CAA and farm bills, and thousands of farmers took to the streets to demand that the Indian government scrap it.
Silicon Valley County Resolution against discriminatory CAA
Alameda County passed a resolution against CAA. The resolution also referred that the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom designated India as “Country of Particular Concern (CPC),” and that the Commission in its 2020 report, said that India was “engaging in and tolerating systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations.”
“Furthermore, it proclaimed that the Alameda County Board of Supervisors opposes the CAA, the National Population Register (NPR) and the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) in India which together are discriminatory towards Muslims, caste oppressed minorities, women and indigenous people,” the resolution concluded.
This is a significant development as Alameda County is one of the largest counties in Silicon Valley with a population of over 1.6 million. The county is counted as the seventh most populous county in the state and incorporates 14 cities in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Alameda County’s opposition to the discriminatory citizenship provisions of the Indian government comes in the series of stands taken by various cities in the United States. Six city councils – San Francisco, Seattle, Cambridge, Albany, Saint Paul and Hamtramck – opposed the exclusionary citizenship laws and provisions of the Narendra Modi government.
Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos has welcomed the resolution passed by Alameda County in the state of California against the draconian CAA and related initiatives such as NRC and the NPR that threaten to disenfranchise millions of Indian Muslims.
Ahsan Khan, the President of Indian American Muslim Council, said, “The resolution passed by Alameda County is consistent with the values of the American and Indian democracies. And hence, I strongly believe that such opposition of various city councils to Indian government’s exclusionary laws should be a model for the incoming Biden administration to follow and uphold.”
Rallies in solidarity with farmers and anti-CAA activists
In Boston also rallies were held in solidarity with farmers and anti-CAA activists
Braving heavy rain and cold weather on December 12th 2020, people from Greater Boston attended a protest in solidarity with farmers and anti-CAA activists. The diversity of backgrounds included Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Dalits, and Christians.
Activists from Unions and different progressive organizations also enthusiastically participated in the protest. Bus drivers, doctors, students, artists, cooks, professors, scientists, and engineers spoke at the rally.
The speakers pointed out that the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government has used the pandemic to impose draconian farm laws that will destroy the small and medium farmers while benefiting the large Indian corporations and multinationals.
People chanted slogans and held placards in solidarity with the farmers who have set up an encampment in Delhi. They also recognized the unprecedented and historic nature of the protest, which involves hundreds of thousands of farmers blockading the national highways leading to Delhi. The speakers commended the Indian workers for leading a historic strike and showing full solidarity with the farmers.
Rallies and protests in solidarity with farmers were held in places like Atlanta, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Houston, New York, and Washington, DC on December 12th and 13th, 2020.
The protesters marked the one-year anniversary of the discriminatory and unconstitutional CAA. The speakers also saluted the brave women of Shaheen Bagh who have led the equal citizenship movement against CAA, NRC and NPR. They recognized that after the Covid-19 pandemic is over women will continue to lead the equal citizenship movement.
The Boston South Asian Coalition was the organizer of this protest which was co-sponsored by Ambedkar King Study Circle, Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia, Coalition Against Fascism in India, Free Saibaba Coalition, Hindus for Human Rights, India Civil Watch – International, International Action Center – Boston, Indian American Muslim Council, Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Team Solidarity (Boston).
The attendees raised the following demands:
1. Repeal Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019.
2. Withdraw National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).
3. Release all anti-CAA activists and Political Prisoners, including Bhima Koregaon related 16 prisoners.
4. Arrest all the perpetrators of the Delhi Pogrom.
5. Hold a special session of parliament and repeal all the anti-farmer laws.
Solidarity rally for farmers in Kolkata
While back in India, in poll-bound Bengal, Sikh community members and Bengali as well Hindi-speaking Left activists joined in a rally in solidarity to the ongoing farmers movement at Delhi borders on Monday, December the 14th, at Dunlop Baranagar in north Kolkata. Artists performed colourful cultural programmes saluting the undaunted spirit of the farmers even after almost three weeks long demonstration under the open sky braving the increasingly bitter North Indian cold. Speakers explained the ill-effects of new farm laws both on farmers and urban poor as well as on middle class consumers. They claimed that the new laws have virtually licenced big companies to hoard food-grains including pulses as well as vegetables like onions and potatoes.
It was organised by Baranagar Nagarik Udhyog, a joint citizen initiative.