Seikh Mohammad Ilias is ready to sacrifice his life, but will not accept division among communities. Mr Ilias also appeals to people to take the onus to protect the Indian Constitution.
“We will not allow any division on religious grounds. Without focusing on the basic needs of the people, and ignoring the issue of unemployment, the BJP-led government at the Centre has pushed the country towards darkness by taking anti-Constitutional steps. Those raising their voice are branded anti-nationals. I will sacrifice my life, let the blood spill, but will not allow division on religious grounds,” said Mr Ilias, who is in his late 60s, as he took part in a human chain formed to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR) at the Safdar Hasmi Chowk.
His 65-year-old friend, Md Hafid, meanwhile, talked of his resolve to stand up for the rights for the secular spirit of the Constitution. From homemakers to professionals, students and mothers, many men and women, young and old, with placards hanging down their necks, where the CAA, NRC and NPR were marked with the cross sign, took part in the human chain and a three-day sit-in from today organised by the Darjeeling district unit of the All Bengal Citizen Committee Against NRC.
“I am born here like many of you, but why will there be discrimination? It’s not yet time to rest. A strong mood against the discriminatory laws has swept the nation. We will all fight to preserve the country’s secular and democratic character. There have been continued attempts to mislead the people with their own interpretation of history,” said a housewife, Razda Begum.
The organisers called for an inter-faith protest against the amended citizenship law, NRC and NPR. An associate professor of political science at the Surya Sen Mahavidyalaya, Dr Bikas Kumar Deb, who was part of the protests, said the implications of the CAA and NRC were very much divisive and anti-Constitutional.
“The CAA is discriminatory and in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution as well as the basic structure of the Constitution, violation of the basic features of equality of religion and secularism as underlined in the Constitution. I appeal to people to come forward in more numbers to voice a strong protest against the draconian act. When people are hitting the streets against the politics of communal polarisation, being a citizen, it is my duty to stand beside them,” Dr Deb said.
Songs and poems marked the sit-in, where most of the women participated, near the Siliguri Post Office. People from a cross section of society, including academics, theatre activists, students, cultural activists, doctors, and rights activists sat under a tent there. This is perhaps for the first time in north Bengal that a sit-in against the CAA, NRC and NPR will continue for more than one day.