At Chaityabhoomi in Mumbai’s Dadar, a programme was organized in memory of Rohith Vemula. The programme looked more like an anti-CAA protest than a gathering in memory of Rohith Vemula, a PhD student of the University of Hyderabad who had committed suicide in 2015. At this gathering, there were chants of Azaadi and the protesters also sung songs against the RSS. Inciting violence, the protestors also chanted slogans like ‘Joote Maro Sanghiyon Ko’.
The programme was organized by the Joint Action Committee For Social Justice, Maharashtra. There were activists of the Samara Kala Manch singing anti-RSS and anti-BJP songs.
One of the policemen present there said that the organisers have not obtained any previous permission for the programme.
Amid all chants, a Christian priest from Bandra addressed the gathering. He expressed solidarity with the protesters on behalf of the Christian community in India. Father said in his address that we are long past the partition and we don’t need to make reparation for partition now by bringing such laws.
He also said that this gathering is for talking against discrimination against all communities like Dalits and Adivasis. He said that the in last five years Adivasis in Jharkhand were discriminated against and they have spoken through the ballot and changed the govt.
Father also said that if NRC is implemented, with the religious discrimination possibilities, we will have divisions in Indian society that will cause real description in our lives.
The Christian priest said that he is happy that the young people of the country have taken up the cause of opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act. He said that CAA might have been framed with good intentions in mind, but it is for them to tell the government that the partition is the past and laws like CAA are not required.
Interestingly, the Christian priest was present when slogans inciting violence were raised. The crowd was heard chanting ‘Joote Maro Sanghiyon Ko’ and ‘Joote Maaro ABVP Ko’ were heard.
Further, the protestors terms ‘Sanghis’ as ‘Hitler Ki Aulad’ and urged the crowd to beat ‘Sanghis’ up with shoes. There were also heard chanting slogans against “Brahmanvadis” and “Sanatanis”.
This address by the Bandra Christian priest raises some serious questions. Is the Church making a political statement? Are these protests backed by the Church? The presence of a priest in this Dadar gathering has made clear indications that the church might be actively involved in protests against the Modi govt.
There were chants of ‘Kashmir tum Sangharsh Karo, Hum Tumhare Sath hai’. It is strange to see such chants supporting secessionists in Kashmir raised in a gathering to remember Rohith Vemula. One must ask if the Church support secessionists in Kashmir? Pamphlets saying ‘claim the lands for all oppressed!’ were also circulated in the gathering.
One wonders what exactly was going on in the gathering that was supposed to be in memory of Rohith Vemula? Who are these people fueling protests across the country? Is the Church supporting protests against an act that gives citizenship to persecuted Christian too? Is this all for a just cause or just to oppose the Modi govt that was once again elected with a huge mandate in 2019?