Mumbai: After reports of police atrocities on students protesting the recently passed Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) at the Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi on Sunday, Bollywood celebrities seemed to be maintaining a studied silence.
But now, some of them have evidently found their voice, it appears, as several people from the Hindi film industry will be taking to the streets on Thursday, to speak up on the subject.
Filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, actors Richa Chaddha, Swara Bhasker, Farhan Akhtar, Shabana Azmi and Sayani Gupta, lyricist and script-writer Javed Akhtar, director Anubhav Sinha and stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra are expected to lead the protesters, alongside political leaders of the state at August Kranti Maidan, Grant Road.
Labelling the CAB 'unconstitutional', the artists have also taken to their social media accounts to urge Mumbaikars to participate for the sake of democracy.
Leaders from the current dispensation, the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), are also expected to show up at the maidan for this peaceful protest.
Congress spokesperson and state general secretary Sachin Sawant confirmed his participation and said, the authorities would leave no stone unturned to ensure peace and discipline at the venue.
“Mumbaikars are known for their resilience. Unlike the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), we respect the Constitution and will ensure the proceedings are conducted smoothly,” said Sawant.
However, Sawant insisted that the protest should not be labelled as a political gathering, it was more of an event where people would be present in their capacity as Indian citizens, rather than Bollywood A-listers or politicians.
“It must be remembered, we are here to protect the Constitution and not to break the law. True strength lies in resistance and we will resist,” he added.
Similar sentiments were echoed by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislator, Mumbai president and spokesperson Nawab Malik, who said, the protest was by citizens who would unite to thwart the Centre's divide and rule politics.
“The BJP's attempt to divide the people has united them. Tomorrow's gathering will be a clear message to the Centre that Indians stand together against an authoritarian regime,” said Malik.
Leaders of the Shiv Sena, which is one of the members of the MVA, remained silent when asked about their participation in the rally. Commenting on this, Malik stated, “Our meeting cuts across party lines. This is a matter of conscience and humanity. India is a secular country and we are coming together to protect our democracy,” said Malik.
Veteran social activist Feroze Mithiborewala informed that the administration and police have been tremendously supportive. The activist noted that it was a matter of pride that political parties had started to think beyond partylines and unite for a common cause.
“Mumbai Police and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation understand dissent is our democratic right. The authorities and the administrative bodies were very helpful and the protest will be conducted peacefully,” said Mithiborewala.