Post-objections over BJP event, intellectuals plan protest today

Post-objections over BJP event, intellectuals plan protest today

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 18

Unhappy with implications of the BJP gathering, intellectuals have now planned to host their own protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and in solidarity with the Shaheen Bagh protest in the city on January 19.

Notably, the city has seen negligible protests against the CAA so far. A few students’ protests hosted so far have seen less number of students offering solidarity.

As intellectuals representing over a dozen organisations congregated at the Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Hall today to question the allowing of a BJP event on the premises of the Desh Bhagat Yadgaar Hall (DBYH), they also questioned recent activities at the hall.

Organisations which raised objections against the BJP event yesterday included Kaumantary Lekhak Manch Punjab ‘Kalam’; Sahit Peeth, Ferozepur; Manav-vadi Rachna Manch, Punjab; People’s Voice; Sahitak Sabhyachar Sanstha ‘Phulkari’; Apni Mitti, Apne Lok; Punjabi Lekhak Sabha, Jalandhar; Suchetak Rang Manch, Mohali; Shabd Vichar Manch, among others.

While the main GT Road and the premises of the hall were dressed up in saffron during the ceremony in which the newly appointed BJP president Ashwani Sharma took charge, BJP flags were waved and the premises’ main hall — which bore posters of PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah. With the state government also passing the anti-CAA Bill in the Vidhan Sabha on the same day, BJP leaders issued condemnations of the bill terming it a ‘black day’ for Punjab and hailing CAB as pro-minorities.

Referring to yesterday’s incident, Dalit writer and activist Des Raj Kali said: “The event has disturbed us, we have come to mark our objections and to make aware the committee of preventing such events in future. The crisis isn’t about hosting a party. In present times, country’s politics has changed and the committee needs to take stance on which forces it sides with. We shall be holding a protest by intellectuals and writers supporting the CAB at the DBYH from tomorrow onwards.”

He said: “When Inder Kumar Gujral was the I&B minister, Ghadar revolutionary Baba Gurmukh Singh questioned his entry into the hall. His bodyguards were disallowed from entering the hall. There’s a huge Ghadarite and communist legacy which the committee represents.”

Punjabi writer and intellectual Dr Sewa Singh said: “The event seems like an attempt to enter places which stand for socialism and people’s movements. We perceive it as a conscious attempt to dilute the narrative which sides with people. The committee has played into this attempt. We condemn the hosting of an event standing for Hindu nationalistic ideology at the hall.”

Excerpts of formal letter issued by intellectuals

“For the past long time it was being perceived by authors/artistes/thinkers that the committee is slipping from their hopes. The committee’s role has also disappointed during the Mela Ghadri Babeyan Da. Giving of the hall on rent to Sangh members and allowing disciples of Shri Shri Ravishankar pose questions to the message of Ghadarites. Now, hosting the crowning of the BJP president. Given the historic point at which the country stands, what the BJP and Sangh are doing and the government led by Yogi Adityanath is doing in the UP, we will have to be clear which side are we standing with”, says the formal letter issued by intellectuals today.

What BJP said on CAB on Friday

While BJP president Ashwani Sharma took charge on the day the Congress passed the resolution against the CAB in the state, the newly-elected president has termed it a ‘black day for the state during the event yesterday.

Sharma had said: “The CAB is aimed at aiding minorities and providing shelter to those persecuted in Pakistan and elsewhere. The resolution (passed by the Congress on CAB) marks a black day for Punjab.”

BJP national vice-president Vinay Sahrabuddhe had said: “On the land of Guru Nanak Dev, the Congress has passed a resolution which opposes the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB). Shouldn’t the minorities and affected brothers and sisters from communities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh be given place in India? Its unfortunate, Congress can’t tolerate it. Jo manavta ke virodhi hain main maanta hun vahi is kanoon ke virodh ki baat kar sakte hain (only those opposed to humanity can oppose this law). It is unfortunate. Ashwani ji this is a challenge in front of us.”

He said the second challenge was there were attempts to spread Maoism and to give a fillip to Naxalism within the government here. We witnessed this when we visited Sangrur where a Dalit brother had recently been killed. We face the challenge to stop this.”

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