Protests have rocked India since the Citizenship Amendment Act passed through both houses of the parliament. Many protests have been marred by violence, in which police’s heavy-handedness has killed some (in Assam) as well injured several across the country.
A handful of artistes outside of Assam (in Assam several have come out in support of protests) have made their voices heard. Here are the artistes who’ve called for restraint from the state, and to not violently curtail protests, and others who’ve expressed displeasure about the CAA-NRC.
John Cusack In Solidarity
Even as citizens asked Indian stars to show solidarity it came unbidden from Hollywood star John Cusack.
— John Cusack (@johncusack) December 16, 2019
Cusack also tweeted Arundhati Roy’s statement on the NRC-CAB to his 1.6 million followers, bringing global attention to the issue.
Statement on NRC-CAB
Arundhati Roy pic.twitter.com/rTgF5CWF2G
— John Cusack (@johncusack) December 16, 2019
Voices from Assam
In Assam, filmmaker Jahnu Barua withdrew his film Bhoga Khirikee from the Assam film festival in protest against the CAB (now CAA). According to the PTI, Barua expressed “anguish over the ongoing unrest across Assam and North East. The Padma Bhushan awardee said that the leaders are “disrobing the motherland” only because of power politics. He said, ‘I am very unhappy at the ongoing situation regarding the bill. This bill should not have happened. We believed the leadership, but they are not trying to understand us. In such a situation, I do not want to participate in such a programme… The Assamese community is language centric. There are people from all religions and we want to remain like this. Language is everything for us. If we lose that, then what will happen? As an artist, I can clearly see what is going to happen.”
Actor Adil Hussain (who hails from Assam) tweeted his anguish as well. “In All THESE chaos of NRC and CAB, #CitizenshipAmendmentBill I am most concern and deeply saddened that the fundamental “identity” of ours as human is massacred. In this fight no body will win. Everybody will loose. The greatest loss of our times will be humanity itself. When we were born, our families had cheered because our mothers had given birth to a Human & not a squirrel! We were born a human FIRST. If we cannot retain, protect & celebrate the PRIMARY identity than what’s the USE of calling ourselves a Muslim, Hindu, Assamese or a Bengali? Assam, very painfully slowly, was recovering from 2.5 decades of unrest from 1979. Things were becoming a bit normal. Now, the wisdom of our Leadership failed to understand the complexities of Assamese cultural fabric. The decision to impose CAB is the most unwise ever.(sic)”
Assamese Singer Papon Angaraag tweeted, “It’s painful to see the way Assam is burning!Humanity is suffering! Assam has been burdened with illegal immigration for decades!We don’t deserve this!The diverse, complex mix of the Assamese culture & people and their existence needs to be understood!We need to be heard properly. Dear Delhi. I am very sorry but I have decided not to do the concert tomorrow at ‘imperfectoshor’ as planned! My home state Assam is burning, crying and under curfew! I won’t be able to entertain you the way I should in my present state of mind!(sic)”
A Few from Film Fraternity Tweet
Filmmaker Alankrita Shrivatsava (Lipstick under my burkha) said, “I studied at Jamia. It is where I trained to be a filmmaker, where I met my best friends for life. It is the place that gave me hope and encouragement when I was a confused young girl trying to navigate my way through life. I have such fond memories. But today… Today my heart is bleeding for the students of Jamia who have been mercilessly attacked on campus. This is wrong and cruel at every level. I stand in solidarity with the bravehearts of Jamia. I am praying for the students who are injured and fighting for their lives. Recover because we need you to live. India needs it’s students. Brave and fearless students are the future of the country. They are the only hope.(sic)”
Actor Siddharth had said earlier when the Bill passed through the parliament, “Deeply ashamed that Edapadi Palanisamy represents my state and our people. Supporting the #CAB shows his true colours, his lack of integrity and his desperate need to remain powerful at any cost. You will all be held accountable. Enjoy your temp power till then. #IndiaRejectsCAB… #Jayalalithaa would have never supported #CAB. How the #AIADMK has crashed in its ethos, in her absence!” He also said, “These two are not Krishna and Arjuna. They are Shakuni and Duryodhana. Stop attacking #universities! Stop assaulting #students! #JamiaMlia #JamiaProtest(sic)”.
Actor-politician Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Mayyam has approached the Supreme Court challenging the CAA.
Anurag Kashyap, who had quit Twitter following the grave threats to his family, tweeted today. “This has gone too far.. can’t stay silent any longer . This government is clearly fascist .. and it makes me angry to see voices that can actually make a difference stay quiet(sic)”.
You. Yes, you, reading this quietly,
licking away at the emperor’s coat-tails, with a blind eye to your bleeding brother, you eat shit!
— Neeraj Ghaywan (@ghaywan) December 15, 2019
Actor Richa Chadha wrote, “Stop hitting students,” and “Kerala, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Jadavpur Kolkata, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Aligarh, Delhi, Mumbai. Kashmiris are not allowed to protest… People, students all over are protesting against the #CAA2019. Don’t be in denial(sic)”.
Filmmaker Aparna Sen, said, “The writing is on the wall! India WILL NOT accept Savarkar’s India. The youth of the country is rising in protest. 7 states have opposed CAA. Shame on an administration that attacks universities! I stand in solidarity with the students of India(sic)”.
Stand up comedian and actor Vir Das wrote, “The fact thay they constantly have to shut down the internet is the biggest clue. It’s a young tool, it’s powerful, it’s free. Old ancient men, with old ancient ideologies can only fight on old ancient terms. Scared of the future because they know they have no place in it… Dear Govt, If you’re looking for non-violent discourse and debate…quit shutting down the internet. Last i checked, it was more thinking and talking…less bleeding. Young people can’t set the internet on fire and you can’t lathi charge the internet. What say?(sic)”.
Actor Rajkummar Rao said, today, “I strongly condemn the violence that the police have shown in dealing with the students. In a democracy the citizens have the right to peacefully protest. I also condemn any kind of act of destruction of the public properties. Violence is not the solution for anything!(sic)”.
Meanwhile, Akshay Kumar was seen liking videos from a xenophobic account that mocked the protests in JMI. “Regarding the ‘like’ on the tweet of Jamia Milia students, it was by mistake. I was scrolling and accidentally it must have been pressed and when I realised I immediately unliked it as In no way do I support such acts(sic)”.
Wonder if this is a start or the end. Whatever it is, this is surely writing new rules of the land and those who don’t fit in can very well see the consequences.
This video breaks heart n hopes all together. Irreversible damage,and I’m not talking about just the life n property https://t.co/QGaZYpDCR6
— taapsee pannu (@taapsee) December 16, 2019
Writers Speak Up
But the biggest surprise was Chetan Bhagat’s lashing out against the suppression of student voices as well as the NRC/CAA. Bhagat wrote, “Repeated and prolonged Internet shutdowns hurt business and the economy. Sends a message that we are an unpredictable, third-world country where things are not under control. Even non-democratic China never did it during Hong Kong protests. The CAB required more education, more consensus building, a lot better wording and frankly better intentions. Stirring the social pot constantly is going to hurt us and the already weak economy. The youth is angry. There are not enough jobs. Salaries are low. Don’t mess with them. The first priority should be to lift the economy back again. Crashing the economy. Making jobs vanish. Shutting down Internet. Sending police in libraries. The youth may have patience, but don’t test the limits of it. Many get confused about my politics here. To be clear am only interested in an India where everybody lives in harmony and we have stellar economic growth. That is my dream. One-sided groupings bore me. I am not on your fixed side. I am on India’s side. And am proud of that. Whatever their historical names, there are no Hindu or Muslim universities in India. They are all Indian universities. And they all must be protected. Demo, GST, 370, CAB, post-announcement issues in all. Suggests there is an army of yes-men in the govt who nod at everything, do not think things through or raise genuine doubts. Maybe think about the decision making process. Those who fantasize about India with a Hindu king and his subservient subjects, remember this. Even if I dignified your bigotry (I don’t), you can’t wish 200mn Muslims away. Try that and India will burn, GDP will crash and your kids will be unsafe and jobless. Stop these fantasies!(sic)”.
Author Ravinder Singh lent his voice and said, “This protest is not by the Muslims, for the Muslims and of the Muslims. It is by the people, for the people and of the people who believe in the idea of India. #CAAprotest #JamiaProtest. Influential voices are sitting silent & watching India being divided on religious lines. It is their choice to speak up/not. My respect for them goes up, when beyond movies they play atleast a supporting actor’s role, if not that of a hero’s. #CAAprotest #JamiaProtest(sic)”.
Author Anita Nair too chipped in, “All of us can see what is happening to our country. And yet the morons who first voted the fascists into power are still in denial about the darkness that looms over India and threatens to destroy it. Instead they tell you students should just study(sic)”.
Author Nilanjana Roy said, “Something I want to say to former colleagues in the media. Yesterday, many of you were far too quick to believe that students at the #CABProtests were responsible for acts of violence and arson. This was totally untrue, but your initial reactions caused a lot of damage. Over the last few years, you have seen how dirty and relentless the propaganda wars have become. In the rush to be fair, to “balance” your news, don’t fall into the trap of believing the propaganda out there. There’s enough violence to investigate. It’s not by the students. Some urgent questions: why were the police on the Jamia campus without the VC’s permission? Why was brutal force used in AMU and Jamia, and why were students denied access to medical treatment? Are reports of sexual abuse of women true? Who ordered the police crackdown?”
Author and mythologist Devdutt Pattanaik said, “Hinduism = make your land so attractive that people from all over the world want to migrate towards it like bees to honey, Hindutva = keep people off your land, and encourage people to leave it and become $$$ seeking Bharat Mata Tyagis(sic)”.
Annie Zaidi, author of the recent Prelude to a Riot, that is set in the build-up to a riot over a majoritarian community’s hatred for people labelled ‘illegal immigrants’ by locals, said, “And all of you going on about non-violence and high moral grounds, YOU take the satyagrahi road for a change. A nation is bigger than a job. Fight for it. Face teargas & bullets, then talk about how much higher protestors need to climb by way of moral ground. Recall that non-violence applies primarily to human life, not property. When Satyagrah was at its peak, people were encouraged to BURN British made cloth. There is zero equivalence between damage to objects and damage to human bodies.(sic)”.