Oppn parties pledge support with anti-CAA protesters
New Delhi: Opposition parties pledged their support on Wednesday with social activists Sadaf Jafar, Pawan Rao Ambedkar, Deepak Kabir and former Uttar Pradesh IGP SR Darapuri, who were arrested by the UP police during the anti-CAA stir, and said the movement against the contentious law was an effort to save the Constitution.
As the four persons, who alleged torture at the hands of the Uttar Pradesh police, recalled their trauma, leaders such as CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury and politburo member Brinda Karat, CPI general secretary D Raja, LJD chief Sharad Yadav and RJD's Manoj Jha assured them that the movement they were a part of would not be allowed to die down.
"The 20 parties, which met on January 13, have pledged their support with the movement. Protecting the Constitution is the highest form of patriotism. Terming all those who protest against the CAA, NRC or NPR as Pakistanis or saying that they are speaking the language of Pakistan is utter nonsense. These people were kept in jail without a shred of evidence. What happened to them is happening across the country," Yechury said.
The four persons, who were remanded in police custody, alleged that they were beaten up, slapped and kicked by police officials. They recalled being denied food and water for long spells and even being disallowed to inform their families about their whereabouts.
"What hurt me more than the physical torture were the communal slurs that were hurled at me. At that time, through the pain, I kept hoping that someone will come for me," Jafar, who along with the others have been released on bail, said. LJD leader Yadav compared the situation prevailing in the country to the Emergency period of the 1970s and said the current state of affairs was worse than that.
"This is an unofficial Emergency. While during Emergency everything was out in the open, now it is silent, cannot be seen," he said. Jha hailed the students and common people behind the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and said the current situation was such that having a name like "Kabir" or a surname like "Ambedkar" was a crime in itself.
"The testimonies that you are hearing here, such things are happening across the country. If a former IG can be treated this way, imagine what happens to others. This movement is a movement of the people, let there be no doubt. This is a movement where people have taken the government on. This is not a movement started by political parties, but we are here to support it," he said.
Raja said the torture of people in custody was a "crime committed" by the Uttar Pradesh government.
The Left leader said while the BJP-led Centre was now resorting to "abusing and accusing" the Opposition of spreading lies, it was unable to answer any of the questions raised by them or the anti-CAA protesters.
Around 20 opposition parties have decided to hit the streets against the Centre's economic policies as well as against the CAA and the proposed countrywide National Register of Citizens (NRC). A joint meeting of opposition parties, convened by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on January 13, urged people to observe January 23 (Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's birthday), January 26 (Republic Day) and January 30 (martyrdom day of Mahatma Gandhi) as occasions to uphold constitutional values.