Enough Is Enough: Naseeruddin, Mira Nair on CAA in Open Letter

More than 300 prominent individuals including people like Naseeruddin Shah, Mira Nair and Nandita Das have signed an open letter expressing their solidarity over the nation wide protests by students against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The list also includes Ratna Pathak Shah, Jaaved Jafferi, Homi K Bhabha, Partha Chatterjee, Anita Desai, Kiran Desai, TM Krishna, Ashish Nandy, and Gaytri Chakravorty Spivak among others.

The signatories have said in the letter, “We stand in solidarity with the students and others who are protesting and speaking out against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and against the National Register of Citizens (NRC). We salute their collective cry for upholding the principles of the Constitution of India, with its promise of a plural and diverse society. We are aware that we have not always lived up to that promise, and many of us have too often remained silent in the face of injustice. The gravity of this moment demands that each of us stand for our principles.”

Here is the complete letter:

An open statement from members of the Creative and Scholarly Community in India. We are artists, filmmakers, writers and scholars. Our work reflects people’s lives, struggles and hopes. We offer our dreams to everyone.But what dream can show us the way in the midst of the present nightmare? Our vision for this nation demands that we speak up now, in the name of our democracy and the constitution that protects it. We stand in solidarity with the students and others who are protesting and speaking out against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and against the National Register of Citizens (NRC). We salute their collective cry for upholding the principles of the Constitution of India, with its promise of a plural and diverse society. We are aware that we have not always lived up to that promise, and many of us have too often remained silent in the face of injustice.”

“The gravity of this moment demands that each of us stand for our principles.The policies and actions of the present government, passed quickly through parliament and without opportunity for public dissent or open discussion, are antithetical to the principle of a secular, inclusive nation. The soul of the nation is threatened. The livelihoods and statehoods of millions of our fellow Indians are at stake. Under the NRC, anyone unable to produce documentation (which, in many cases, does not exist) to prove their ancestry may be rendered stateless. Those deemed“illegal” through the NRC may be eligible for citizenship under the CAA, unless they are Muslim.Contrary to the stated objective of the government, this does not appear to be a benign legislation, only meant to shelter persecuted minorities.

“The list of exclusions seems to indicate otherwise. Why are minorities from other neighbours like Sri Lanka, China and Myanmar excluded? Is it because the ruling powers in these latter countries are not Muslim? It appears that the legislation believes that only Muslim governments can be perpetrators of religious persecution. Why exclude the most persecuted minorities in the region, the Rohingya of Myanmar or the Uighurs of China? This legislation only acknowledges Muslim perpetrators, never Muslim victims. The aim is transparent: Muslims are the unwelcome Other.This is state-sanctioned religious persecution, and we will not condone it. In Assam and the Northeast, and in Kashmir, the indigenous identity and livelihood is threatened as never before, and we will not condone it.”

“The response of the government and law-enforcement agencies to the distress of its citizens has been callous and high-handed. India has seen the most Internet shutdowns of any democracy in the world. Police brutality has left hundreds injured, including many students from Jamia Milia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University. Several citizens have been killed while protesting. Many more have been placed in preventive detention. Section 144 has been imposed in numerous states to curb protests. We need look no further than Kashmir to see how far this government is willing to go to suppress democratic dissent. Kashmir is now living under the longest Internet shutdown ever imposed by a democratic government. Enough is enough.Those of us who have been quiet in the past, our silence ends now. We will be clear-sighted in our dissent. Like our freedom fighters before us, we stand for a secular and inclusive vision of India. We stand with those who bravely oppose anti-Muslim and divisive policies. We stand with those who stand up for democracy. We will be with you on our streets and across all our platforms. We are in solidarity.”

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