Punjab’s Malerkotla, a Muslim majority town in Sangrur district, will observe a shutdown Friday to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which has been cleared by both Houses of Parliament. Apart from Muslim organistations, outfits representing the Sikhs and Hindus have extended support to the bandh call.
“It will be a peaceful protest from our side. Not only shops and markets, but even schools and colleges will remain closed tomorrow. CAB is an effort to make Muslims feel that they are not part of the country. Ours will be an apolitical protest in which all religious organisations will take part,” said Mubeen Farooqi, president of the Muslim Federation of Punjab while talking with The Indian Express.
He added,”The killers of late PM Rajiv Gandhi were from Sri Lanka while many Hindus have been arrested for alleged terror activities. What is the proof that Hindus from Bangladesh, who will get citizenship will be loyal to India? Terrorism has no religion and hence keeping one religion out of CAB clearly shows the anti-Muslim face of BJP-led NDA government.”
Parampal Singh, spokesperson for an alliance of Sikh organisations, said,”Sikhs are also a minority in the country. Being a minority, we will support our Muslim brothers and sisters in this discrimination. Government is creating a divide among various religions.”
Vikramjeet Singh Panthey, SDM, Malerkotla, said,”Today we had called a meeting of peace committee of sub-division Malerkotla in which about 50 persons from different religious organisations came. They have assured to observe a peaceful protest near Eid Gah Chowk in Malerkotla. They have appealed to like minded people to keep their markets, educational institutions, offices closed. So it is up to the masses to keep them closed or not.”
He added,”We have called additional police force and more than 500 cops will be on duty in the town.”
Ludhiana protest tomorrow
On Saturday, Muslim organisations from Ludhiana will take out a protest march from Jama Masjid to DC office and will also be submitting a memorandum addressed to President to the Ludhiana DC.
Shahi Imam of Punjab, Maulana Habib-ur-Rehman Sani Ludhianvi, said,”If we will not oppose it now, we will be supporting a country within country being created by the BJP. On Saturday, Imams of 90 Masjids of Ludhiana and all Muslim organisations will be doing a march from Jama Masjid, Ludhiana to the DC office. CAB is not acceptable to us.”
Mustkeem Ahrari, secretary Imam Punjab said,”Now that they have kept Muslims out of CAB, it will hurt Muslims the most during the NRC. We will have to keep collecting documents our entire life to prove our citizenship for this country.”
Muhammad Usman Rehmani Deputy Shahi Imam, Jama Masjid, Ludhiana, said,”All Muslim organisations are on the same page and we will oppose CAB tooth and nail.”
Of the total population, Punjab has 1.93 per cent Muslims (2011 census). Sangrur has the maximum Muslims in the state (10.82 per cent), followed by Ludhiana (2.2 per cent). Malerkotla falls in Sangrur and has 70 per cent Muslim population.