Voicing concerns over the turmoil that the country has been witnessing, and the ‘atmosphere of division on religious lines,’ people of all walks of life marched in rally by upholding the contribution made by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose in the emergence of a secular India. The rally was held to mark the 123rd birth anniversary of the freedom fighter today.

Academicians, theatre artistes, writers, art and literature enthusiasts, doctors, students, and social and rights activists joined the rally, as they recited poems, after the rally started near the statue of Pandit Iswar Chandra Vidyasagar at College Para.

“There has been an atmosphere of fear and divisions on religious grounds. People do not want a division on communal lines. We uphold secular values that the country has cherished for long. We have realised it is very important to raise voices against the divisive measures like the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register. Netaji always dreamt about a secular country, and he was against communal politics of any shade. We would like to raise his thoughts and remind the ruling dispensation about understanding the value of unity and secular harmony. We organised this anti-communalism rally to send across the message to the country on the occasion of the 123rd birth anniversary of Netaji,” said a school teacher, Rita Thakur.

The march descended at Netaji’s statue at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose More. A class VII student, Samadrita Das, said she participated in the rally to send across a message of unity. “I have friends in the class who come from diverse backgrounds, different communities, and many of them are worried about discussions over the CAA and NRC. I have learnt from my parents and the school about unity, diversity, and companionship without any discrimination. Many of them felt that the latest move may separate us on religious grounds, which I do not support. We should remain united as we have been over the years. That is the message I wanted to share on Netaji’s birthday,” said Samadrita, who came to the rally with her mother.

Veteran theater artists Partha Chowdhury and Palak Chakrabarty demanded that the CAA be revoked and the proposed nationwide NRC be dropped. “We are passing through turbulent times, and there has been unrest across the country since an attack has been unleashed on the idea of a secular India. The CAA and NRC go against the fundamental founding principles of our republic—equality before law without regard to religious beliefs. There have been attempts to weaken the secular fabric of the country,” they said.

“The CAA’s blatant exclusion of a community is divisive and discriminatory. The goal is to push the country towards a Hindu nation by overthrowing our secular and democratic Constitution, and the strategy is similar to the ones adopted by the British in India and Adolf Hitler in Germany, to divide people on the lines of religion. People will resist such attempts of communal divide. Our demand is to repeal the CAA and stoppage of the NRC,” Mr Chowdhury said. Another school teacher, Rumpa Das, said they stood against communal politics.

“The latest move has fomented ethnic and communal discontent across the nation. The amended citizenship act violated the key principles of equality in the Indian Constitution, and will alter the character of the country. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose never thought about an independent India like this,” she said.