New Delhi: Punjab emerged as the in-focus state today, January 15, at the Shaheen Bagh protest site with hundreds of farmers and student activists converging in solidarity with the women staging a sit-in against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Top leadership of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), led by its president Joginder Singh Ugrahan and general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, with hundreds of their supporters, declared complete support to anti-CAA movement and said they will also organise a Punjab-level massive protest on the issue very soon.
Activists of Lok Morcha Punjab, Naujawan Bharat Sabha and Punjab Students Union (Shaheed Randhawa) also landed at South Delhi's Shaheen Bagh on Wednesday morning.
A smaller group of activists led by Joginder Singh Ugrahan also reached the JNU campus to express solidarity with the protesting students and demanded immediate resignation of the vice-chancellor.
Meanwhile, the top leadership of Shiromani Akali Dal (Taksali), led by its president Ranjit Singh Brahmpura and including Ratan Singh Ajnala and Sewa Singh Sekhwan as well as Bir Devinder Singh, will be landing at the Shaheen Bagh on January 19.
Speaking to Punjab Today, Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan said the BKU activists are busy planning a massive agitation on the issue of parali burning in Punjab next week, on Jan 20 and 21, and after that, a major demonstration is being planned on the CAA-NRC issue.
"Let India's rulers listen to this simple fact: 'We the farmers' are an integral part of 'We the people' and we shall not allow communal forces to divide the people. On one side, these communal and crony-capitalist forces are hand in glove, and on the other side, there is the unity of students, youth, farmers, workers, teachers, professionals and all progressive, right-minded people. This is a battle we will fight to the finish," Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan declared to loud cheers at the Shaheen Bagh.
Among other farmer leaders at Shaheen Bagh on Wednesday were Jhanda Singh Jethuke, Hardip Singh Tallewal, Jaswinder Singh Longowal and Harvinder Kaur Bindu, who also led a group of women from Punjab in sisterly solidarity with the Muslim women.
The Lok Morcha Punjab group was led by Jagmel Singh, the Naujawan Bharat Sabha group was led by Ashwani Ghudda.
Confirming the SAD (Taksali) party's plans, its chief spokesperson and senior vice president Bir Devinder Singh said they will be meeting the JNU Students Union leadership as well.
SAD (Taksali) general secretary Karnail Singh Pir Mohammad and its youth wing president Harsukhinder Singh Babbi Badal, as well as former MLA Ravinder Singh Brahampura will be part of the delegation that will declare total support of the Sikh community and the larger Punjabi society in the agitation against any divisive agenda.
"We are with the progressive forces in this country, be it on Kashmir, Art 370 or the nefarious plans to carry out a nation-wide NRC. We also demand that the Congress must direct all its chief ministers, including Amarinder Singh, to openly declare that they will not carry out the NPR work. It is strange that Amarinder Singh is silent on this. If Kerala Assembly can pass a resolution opposing the CAA, why can't the Punjab Assembly do the same?" Bir Devinder Singh said.
Punjab has been intermittently represented at the Shaheen Bagh protest site. Earlier, on January 3, noted Sikh legislative affairs expert and human rights activist Prof Jagmohan Singh from Ludhiana had addressed the crowds at the Shaheen Bagh with his video initially going viral among the Sikh community groups on social media, and later finding even more traction on Muslim viral groups. "Well, that’s the beauty of taking a stance on human rights. It always resonates with the more oppressed,” Prof Singh, a veteran of many fights over rights, said wryly.
Dal Khalsa’s Kanwar Pal Singh’s presence at the Shaheen Bagh only underlined the broad spectrum from which the collective rage against CAA-NRC is drawing support. "The outpouring of such support is actually a long suppressed feeling that goes way beyond the current shenanigans of RSS-BJP. The saga of trundling over minorities’ sentiments and aspirations in India is decades old, and now that Congress and its acolytes are also discredited, the people are reclaiming their nationalities, identities, desires, aspirations and destiny. Shaheen Bagh is an example of it,” Kanwar Pal Singh said.
Speaking to Punjab Today, Prof Jagmohan Singh said it has become imperative for the Sikh community and for Punjab to stand up and be counted at this juncture because "we have suffered in the past and our experience teaches us that remaining silent will amount to consenting with violators of human rights.”
The Shaheen Bagh protest has now entered into its second month, becoming an unprecedented event in independent India's history where people across class, race, religion, creed are coming in solidarity with Muslim women who have taken up the cudgels on citizenship issue.