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Tribal heartland witnesses huge protest against NRC-CAA, govt asked to stop NPR in State

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Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

BHOPAL: A huge protest against NRC, NPR and Citizenship Act was held in tribal heartland of Madhya Pradesh. 

Apart from Tribals, a large number of Dalits, students, labour groups and people from all sections attended the protest. 

People from tribal dominated districts had reached in large numbers, carrying placards against CAA, NRC and NPR. They converged at the Jhanda Chowk. Under the aegis of Samvidhan Jan Bachao Andolan, the rally was held.

The speakers said that the CAA-NRC and NPR were unconstitutional and anti-people. They said these steps were aimed at curtailing constitutional freedom and are against the values of liberty and equality. 

Representatives of labour organisations too were part of the protest. Women came from faraway towns for the event. They said that the laws affect the people belonging to all the castes and communities, but mostly those who are indigenous, particularly, tribal and marginalized sections, the hard working people of this land.

Tribal leaders said that already the community faces land ownership issues and is denied their constitutional rights. "With NRC, NPR and such exercises, it will be a major blow for the poor people, especially, tribals. There is corruption in getting even basic documents, hence, it is a conspiracy to snatch our rights", they said.

"We reject NRC-NPR. Our lands, our labour are proof of our citizenship", said Tribal leader Harsingh Jamre who gave call for a strong resistance & stressed on need to save tribals from such exercises that deprive them of their constitutional rights. 

"Obstacles are put in the way of even basic rights". "It is the government that needs to prove to its allegiance to the land. Can it deliver on demands of people for employment, fair prices for their produce, their rights to education and health?", he said. 

Apart from tribal leaders, Medha Patkar and Yogendra Yadav were also present. Groups like Jagrit Adiwasi Dalit Sangathan, Adiwasi Mukti Sangathan, Adiwasi Chhatra Sangathan, JAYS, Bhim Army and many other groups including employees' unions were part of this protest. 

Earlier, Yogendra Yadav said, “The Prime Minister says that one can identify protesters by their clothes, I wish the prime minister was here today in Barwani to witness Adivasi women, youth and other citizens coming together to protest”. "Unfortunately for us, the prime minister can only see skullcaps and hijaabs as clothes, how better would it be if he could see another piece of cloth--our tricolour”.

Harsh Mander explained in detail the state of detention centres in Assam and the conditions people faced due to the faulty exercise of NPR-NRC in the state. He went on to elaborate on the kind of clerical errors which subjected citizens to be sent to detention centres, whereby they lost all their democratic and constitutional rights as a citizen on mere spelling mistakes in papers, on failing to furnish papers.

He also clarified that mostly migrant Dalit and Adivasi labourers who had their names were excluded from the final NRC, thus NPR and NRC cannot be an issue of a single community but affects the whole of India. Amidst the slogans of ‘Samvidhan Bachao, Desh Bachao’ the protesters said, ‘We have always fought for our constitutional rights and thus today er have united to fight against this attack on the constitution'.

They said that they don't oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act, the government will continue to wage war against the constitutional provisions, threatening all our democratic and constitutional rights. Thus, this is the start of our unified movement against the NPR-NRC-CAA, and it will not end until the government listens to our demands.

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Journalist for more than 20 years. Had started his career with National Mail in the nineties. Worked as Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, as an Assistant Editor with DB Post, later Contributing Editor with The Huffington Post, writes for First Post, The Wire, Newsd & several other major publications.