December 2019 CAA Protests: All in Vain?
Just a year back, the burgess of Assam uniformly started a mission that in no time became a sensation not only in India, but in the entire world. The mission that slowly started taking shape from the early part of December 2019 was to safeguard the motherland from the disastrous effect of CAA, 2019.
It was on 11th December 2019, where the youths of Assam, especially the students’ fraternity came out as one force expressing their exasperation towards this Act (which was a bill then). And what followed thereafter was a serious of dictatorial activities by those in power, via the process of infliction of curfew, banning of internet and unfortunately even the killing of innocent people. Such was the harassment that even the honorable Gauhati High Court had to step in asking the government to lift the internet ban.
People, irrespective of caste, creed, age or gender took to the streets to protest against CAA and also fight against the ones they themselves elected to the parliament. In fact, the protest that was started by the students was in the due course of time hijacked by different pressure groups, organization and even to a greater extent by the artists. This was because the students’ fraternity sought for a leader to lead them and in that process the entire protest was handed over to different organizations, people etc, but exactly a year later, the concerned dwellers of Assam have been forced to question: Has the mission to save the motherland gone astray within a year’s time? And if the answer to this question is an undeviating ‘yes’, then we need to scrutinize and also criticize the activities and events that occurred in Assam within this period of one year.
If we confabulate about the current status of CAA, it’s in that stage, where the government is keen and eager to make its provisions take full effect from January 2021. BJP’s senior leader Kailash Vijayvargiya was found quoting, “We are hopeful that the process of granting citizens to refugees under CAA will begin from January next.” Although, when over 140 petitions challenging the CAA have been pending in the honorable Supreme Court of India for nearly a year now, it’s baffling to understand not only the urgency of the government to implement the CAA at the earliest but also the honorable Supreme Court of India’s lethargic approach to this issue that has already created emergency like situations in many nooks and corners of the entire country. The corona virus pandemic no doubt too slowed down the intensity of the protest, but the scenes that the dwellers of Assam witnessed during the lockdown period too didn’t present them a comforting environment to believe or understand that the leaders that arose from the CAA protest would be their saviors in this time of despair.
Most of the students of Assam who started the CAA protest, although, didn’t witness the historic Assam Movement but the one that was started by them a year back, can definitely be termed as the biggest student revolt of the decade. But the thing that bothers the students exactly a year later is the derailed goal of the student-led movement. A protest that evolved without any political inclination, irrespective of ideological clashes, have now taken a political turn, the same which was never even desired or expected by the ones raising their voices or losing their lives in the purpose of protecting the sui generis identity of the community. A proper scrutiny of the events that happened in the due course of one year, portrays a pathetic scenario of the entire protest turning into the creation of self-proclaimed leaders or the so-called flag-bearers of change.
Artistes and youth representatives, who took a bold stand against the amendment, ignited a fire of hope for the ones sitting in remote corners of the state. Their unified stand against the government’s decision to impose the amendment, made the general mass believe that they could lead the revolution from the forefront with the same force and also keep that strong force alive and intact at least till that point where Assam is saved from the devastating effect of the Act. But soon after, the same faces were being seeing knocking the doors of various political parties with a distinct change in their vision and direction.
The division of the unified voices into various political parties has now cleared the path for the ruling government to do what they have been meaning to do, more conveniently and smoothly. They have in a very tactical way pulled the emotional string of our people by promising them to properly implement the clause 6 of the Assam Accord (which even didn’t happen) and by far have been quite successful with the same. Moreover, instead of a divided regional political formation, a unified demand of the pressure groups, the organizations, the artistes and a section of the people for proper implementation of Clause 6, along with a demand for Inner Line Permit for the state could have been more fruitful in the discourse of the movement. And although this, in reality, remains the need of the hour, but sadly the same is not the case
Furthermore, with the state elections just round the corner, it should have been a tough game for the ruling party to win but contrasting are the talks or the assumptions. Like every time, a number of baits for our people in the form of infrastructural and personal schemes just a few months prior to the elections and our people falling for the same have made them forget that same are the individuals who once pushed them to a dark corner with the internet ban, curfew for days or the bullets shot to their bodies. Hence, it seems, a year later, the fire or the ignition to safeguard the motherland no longer has the same intensity.
Moreover, with the most popular students’ organization of Assam more oriented towards bestowing a lavish farewell to its former favourite executive member or more so getting politically involved, the scenes hovering do not display a happy picture for the ones who honestly started the protest against CAA. But amidst all these, the pictures of unity and also the sound of the bullets of December 11, 2019 shall always hover and reverberate respectively in the minds of the Assamese people at large.
(The views expressed in the article are of the authors.)