#students | #parents | ‘This fight is about thoughts, not religion, caste or language’

“I am proud to call myself a Muslim, and I am more than proud to say that I am an Indian. Nobody can snatch away both my identities,” said former Jawaharlal Nehru University student and social activist Umar Khalid while speaking at an event against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in the city on Sunday.

The event, organised by Chhatra Bharati, a student organisation, was held at YB Chavan Centre. Organisers said the objective of the conference was to “fight an Act which hampers the Constitution and to spread awareness among the masses, mainly the youth.”

Apart from Mr. Khalid, the event was attended by State Minister for Education Varsha Gaikwad, MLC and Lok Bharti founder Kapil Patil, and activists Salman Imtiaz, Pradeep Narwal, Rama Naga, Hammadur Rahman, Sadiya Shaikh, Bhatta Ram and Ravindra Medhe.

The event started with Yalgaar Cultural Group’s rendition of three protest songs, including ‘Hum Dekhenge’.

“This fight is about thoughts and not about any particular religion, caste, gender or language,” Ms. Gaikwad said, adding, “The saddest part is that the government is not concentrating on issues like unemployment, inflation, health and sanitation, failure of GST and demonetisation, and decreasing women’s safety. Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi has no time to tweet for girls who were brutally raped and murdered but, after every speech of Smriti Irani he has all the time to tweet ‘Satyamev Jayate’.” She also said the citizens of India would never forgive someone who tries to change the Constitution.

Mr. Patil said, “When students start fighting the wrong, you should know that it’s time for you to empty the throne.”

Mr. Khalid began his speech by replying to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s tweets by saying, “Mind your own business. Indian Muslims can take care of themselves.” He also said that Prime Ministers of both the countries should take care of what is happening in their own countries, rather than pointing out each other’s flaws.

Mr. Khalid said Indian Muslims’ ancestors were buried in this land and therefore they would never leave this country. He went on to say that the entire idea of Pakistan is based on religion but in case of India it is its secularism and diversity. He also questioned the groups protesting in favour of CAA, NRC and NPR since the ruling regime is already in favour of these Acts. “Violence and creating havoc is their only motto,” he said.

Shiv Sena’s Aaditya Thackeray, NCP’s Rohit Pawar and eminent writer Javed Akhtar were also supposed to attend the event but did not turn up.

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