The CAA Protests Made Me Realise We Can’t Afford To Be Silent Any More

Some time back, I wrote an article on why I decided to stay away from social media debates and discussions on politics. Back in college, I used to be that guy who participated in debates and discussions on political topics. I was outspoken in class discussions on political matters, and I had won prizes for speeches and debates in schools.

I was a Journalism student in college, but, after graduation, I never stayed in the media industry. I gradually moved into a corporate space, but my argumentative drive didn’t go away. Facebook provided me with an opportunity to channel it, where I picked up a fight with everyone on my list. I dropped friends in a snap.

I decided to quit social media arguments. I used to argue and rant from the time Narendra Modi took oath as the Prime Minister, to the 2019 elections. I argued about privacy, freedom of expression, the cow protection army, and everything in between. It’s also done with the fear that the government might set a target the same way they deal with every opponent who raises their voice.

I decided to be vocal again after the Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) was cleared in the Parliament, and a very aggressive police crackdown happened on the students of Jamia Millia University (JMI).

Delhi police attack unharmed students in and around Jamia Millia Campus. Image credit: Twitter

I kept wondering how one could stay silent and neutral when so much bigotry and communal hate-mongering, endorsed by the ruling party, has been going on in the country.

When it comes to the CAA, it is the duty of any sensible person to tell the story to others. If we don’t do it, we will not be doing our part to change public opinion.

As former IAS officer, Kannan Gopinathan said, “The government does not have the right to take away a person’s citizenship. The burden of proof to establish you are a citizen has been shifted to you… It’s the government’s job to find out who the illegal immigrants are.”

It’s not just about the CAA; a narrative being constructed where everything is done through the guise of the ‘nation’, so you cannot disagree with the government. If you do, you become an “anti-national”.

Last year, there was a time when I was planning on applying to immigrate abroad, and the fear, whether I would get a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for the visa, was real. Now I don’t fear anymore, it doesn’t matter anymore.

I can’t be selfish and self-centered in this situation, where a larger group of people are living in fear. I can’t stay silent when the government seems to silently endorse communal bigotry and hatred.

Now is not the time to stay silent and neutral. If I stay silent, there won’t be anyone left to speak for me when they come for me.

This is best explained in this quote by Martin Niemöller:

First, they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Featured image for representation only.
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