As nationwide uproar over the newly enacted Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) refuses to die down. The Phule Ambedkari Gauravshali Aur Adarshwadi Muhim (PAGAAM), a non-government organisation that works to uplift the weaker sections of society, on Friday organised a protest outside Gurdwara Sahib Singh Shaheedan in Mohali, where hundreds of people could be seen lined up, holding anti-NRC placards, appealing to the people to ‘Save the constitution of India.’
“The Citizenship Amendment Act is against everything that our Indian Constitution stands for,” suggested S R Ladhar, a member of PAGAAM, citing Article 16 of the constitution. “But no matter what, we refuse to be divided on religious grounds. And we will not let the government discriminate against people based on their caste, creed, sect or religion,” he added.
He claimed that the new citizenship law is meant to specifically target minorities.
While any protest runs the risk of turning violent, Ladhar asserted, “We protest in a very peaceful fashion. We all show up in black clothing and the Sikhs in black turbans, symbolic of the Black Day that we are observing for our Indian democracy. The women are clad in dark chunris. We stand in a linear formation. We do not even shout out any slogans, much less resort to any form of violence and vandalism.”
Ladhar continued, “Our aim is to simply have our voices heard. And we do so, not by clogging up traffic, or setting ablaze any public property, but by staging a peaceful demonstration. We just mean to send out a message that we stand in solidarity with all those students and other citizens who have been fighting tirelessly to preserve secularism in the country in face of this attempt to erode the values enshrined in our constitution.”
Ladhar, who is a retired bureaucrat, said, “Here we have people coming from different religions. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs are all in the mix. All we want is the Centre to do away with the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act, as it poses a grave threat to the minority groups.”
Talking about his association and work with PAGAAM, he said, “I just joined the non-government organisation back in February last year and love how PAGAAM has become a voice for the oppressed classes in our country. Ever since it was founded in the year 2008 by Tajinder Singh Jhalli and B N Wagh, it has been elevating the often neglected communities. As the PAGAAM Punjab President, I have always had a very hands-on approach towards the issues the minorities in our region face. We generally focus on alleviating the struggles of people who belong to the SC and ST categories. But we often also work towards providing scholarships for medical and engineering students in the state.”
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