A lesson BJP won’t learn from Delhi election: To not polarise Bihar and West Bengal

Source: theprint.in

BJP tally increased from three to eight seats in Delhi assembly. This is enough to tell the party that polarisation could be a good bet in Bihar, Bengal and Assam.

Shaheen Bagh’ was the most mentioned reference in the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi poll campaign, a convenient metaphor for it to polarise the election and the electorate. But Tuesday’s verdict has shown us one thing — the politics of polarisation may not always work for Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. At best, it is a no-gain-no-loss gamble for the party, one that the BJP will continue to push in the upcoming assembly polls, where the party has huge stakes.

But make no mistake. The one important lesson the BJP will not learn from the Delhi election is to refrain from brazen, even toxic, polarisation.

Polarising the voters on communal lines lies in the BJP’s political DNA, and has been at the heart of its rise in national politics. Notwithstanding Delhi results, this strategy will continue to form the core of the BJP’s campaign in elections in Bihar — due later this year — and Assam and West Bengal next year.

The Delhi chapter

When the poll season began, BJP members privately admitted the party was staring at a dismal performance, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party as the front-runner by a wide margin.

The BJP party then sensed an opportunity to make this election a face-saver. It went all out to make this election entirely about non-developmental issues like the new citizenship law, Shaheen Bagh protests and ‘tukde tukde’ gang.

Even senior BJP leaders, including the likes of junior finance minister Anurag Thakur and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath tried their best to polarise the election, limiting the party’s campaign to goli and gaali. 

The BJP has increased its tally from three to eight seats and its voteshare from 32.7 per cent to 38.7 per cent (as per the Election Commission’s figures till 4pm). This is a marginal improvement for the party, but a resounding defeat nonetheless. However, given that the BJP knew it had a poor chance in Delhi, the polarisation push was more of a desperate attempt to deflect attention from Kejriwal’s governance conversation. Modi and Amit Shah will not see the Delhi election result as a failure of their strategy. It may not have helped BJP, but hasn’t taken away much either. In fact, if Lok Sabha polls were to be held today, Modi will manage to sweep Delhi again.

Do voters get put off by these overt attempts at polarisation? Unlikely, considering BJP polarises every election and its political grammar is such. If the Indian voter had a problem with polarisation, the BJP wouldn’t have managed 303 Lok Sabha seats after its ‘infiltrators are termites’, ‘go to Pakistan’ and ‘anti-national’ campaigns in 2019.

The politics of polarisation may have its limits, but for BJP, the law of diminishing marginal utility does not quite apply.

Upcoming elections

Bihar, West Bengal and Assam — three states where the BJP will do all it can to win — are fertile grounds for polarisation. In Bihar, where the party is in power with Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United), the Muslim population is around 17 per cent as per the 2011 Census. For Modi-Shah’s brand of politics, it makes complete sense to talk communal and put the Congress-RJD combine on the backfoot for ‘minority appeasement’. It helps the opposition’s cause that the RJD has remained a firmly secular party, never being seen as having compromised on that front.

In West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has already been branded as a minority appeaser, and her anti-NRC and anti-CAA stance have only given the BJP more ammunition against her.

If there’s one state that provides Narendra Modi and Amit Shah the most agreeable ground to polarise on communal lines, it is Assam. The state has been on the edge after the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was updated and the CAA brought in, given the big ethnicity faultline. The BJP has conveniently turned the ethnicity debate into a religious one, changing the language of the state’s conflict. As elections approach, the party will sharpen this polarisation pitch further.

For the BJP — whether under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L K Advani, Narendra Modi or Amit Shah — polarisation, an overtly communal agenda and language is the brand of politics it relentlessly pursues, one that has helped it reap dividends over the decades. Shaheen Bagh may be behind it now, but expect the BJP to find another metaphor for its divisive agenda in the upcoming elections.

Opposition to Pathalgadi Might Not Be Reason Behind Jharkhand Killings: Fact-Finding Team

Source: thewire.in

New Delhi: Seven people were murdered and beheaded in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum district in January. A Special Investigations Team (SIT) had linked the killings to opposition to the Pathalgadi movement – which seeks to preserve and safeguard tribal traditions. It was argued that the people were murdered because of their opposition to the Pathalgadi movement by a pro-Pathalgadi faction in the village.

However, a fact-finding team comprising of activists, writers and journalists has now suggested that there may have been a different reason. The team has found that those killed had not followed the diktats of the Sati pati cult – which nudges people to boycott government schemes and surrender government issues documents. The cult originated in Gujarat and has been active in Jharkhand for the past year.

The fact-finding team, which was put together collectively by Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha and National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM), found in its visits and conversations, that about half of the village was following the sati pati cult, while the rest were not. Those who were killed belonged to the section of the village which did not surrender its government-issued documents as the sati pati cult had suggested.

James Budh, one of those killed, had been vocal about his opposition to the cult and had objected to giving up the benefits of government schemes. On January 16, James and some armed members of the People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI) – a Maoist splinter group – had attacked the houses of some of the followers of the sati pati cult.

Then, on January 19, members of the sati pati cult invited James and his accomplices to a meeting. According to the fact-finding team, this is what transpired at the meeting, “from the testimonies of sati pati supporters and family members of the victims, it emerged that the seven people were beaten to death in the meeting and then beheaded.”

The fact-finding team conceded that ‘several questions remain unanswered’ about the killings. But, it is certain that two factions in the village were pro-sati pati cult and anti-sati pati cult contrary to the narrative by the administration which has argued that the killings were the result of a contestation between supporters and detractors of the Pathalgadi movement.

Modi govt’s plan to open up UPSC scores for pvt sector big hit among aspirants

Source: theprint.in

New Delhi: The number of candidates taking up the option of being hired by private companies on the basis of their UPSC scores, have risen by some 1,650 per cent in two years.  

In 2017, the Modi government for the first time allowed prospective recruiters from the private sector to approach candidates who rank high in the Civil Services Exam and the Indian Engineering Services Exam, both of which are conducted by the UPSC. 

The provision is for candidates who qualify till the interview stage of both exams but do not make the final cut. They are then given the option of having their scores uploaded on UPSC’s integrated information system, from which any private company can hire them on the basis of their performance in the exams.

In 2017, 800 such candidates opted to have their scores uploaded onto the UPSC system. Of these 200 landed private jobs. 

In 2018, the number rose sharply to 6,000 candidates, of whom 500 were offered jobs.  

In 2019, the number peaked to 14,000, data accessed by ThePrint shows.

“Now, 80-90 per cent of the candidates who make it till the interview stage opt for this,” a senior UPSC official said. “It is particularly popular among engineers and doctors who get jobs in the private sector easily on the basis of their UPSC scores.” 

UPSC recruiting fewer candidates for civil services

The rise in numbers of candidates opting for private employment through the UPSC scores comes at a time when the number of civil services personnel recruited by the commission has been steadily declining.

According to data provided by the Department of Personnel and Training in Parliament last week, only 2,352 candidates were selected by the UPSC in 2018-19.

“The government can select only so many candidates, but the others are bright, competent too… If every year, about 500-1000 candidates land private jobs through the UPSC exams, you are making sure that the years they spent preparing for the civil services has not gone waste,” a Department of Personnel and Training official said.

There has been a trend of even public and government organisations like the Sports Authority of India or NTPC hiring non-qualified candidates at key positions in the past, said Siddharth Verma, Practice Head at Direct Hires, an employment firm. 

“So it is only logical that the private sector can also make use of these candidates who fall short of making it to government services by a mark or two,” he added. “I am not quite sure of exactly what kind of jobs these people are landing, there are some key industries where their preparation as UPSC candidates comes handy.”

Given their familiarity with humanities, IAS aspirants do well in the consumer sector, where there is some level of understanding of consumer behaviour required, he said. Additionally, UPSC aspirants who have an expertise in economics or statistics do well in the banking, financial and insurance sectors. 

“The point is that the level at which these aspirants prepare for the exam is itself a skill that can be used well by any employer,” Verma said.   

Bihar: Kanhaiya Kumar’s Convoy Attacked for 7th Time in 2 Weeks

Source: thewire.in

Gaya: CPI leader Kanhaiya Kumar’s convoy was attacked again in Bihar on Tuesday and a Congress MLA’s car, which was also in the cavalcade, was vandalised by suspected BJP workers.

This is the seventh attack on the convoy in two weeks, claimed organisers of the Kumar’s state-wide “Jan Gan Man Yatra” which began last month and is scheduled to conclude a fortnight later with a rally in the state capital.

Later sharing the stage with a host of leaders from the opposition Grand Alliance at a public meeting, Kumar flayed the Narendra Modi government for the “divisive” Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi who heads the Hindustani Awam Morcha, Congress MLAs Shakil Ahmed Khan and and Awadhesh Kumar Singh addressed a gathering at Sherghati in Gaya district.

Prior to reaching the venue, the convoy was attacked by a group of motorcyclists who hurled stones at the vehicles leaving the window panes of Singh’s car shattered.

He, however, was not injured in the incident, party sources said adding that a police complaint was filed in connection with it.

A statement was put out by the Joint Forum Against NPR-NRC-CAA, under the banner of which the drive is being undertaken, deploring “the seventh such attack in less than two weeks since the beginning of the tour”.

The statement said, “The slogans raised by the motorcyclists clearly indicated their adherence to a particular ideology” a reference to the BJP which shares power in the state and has been critical of Kanhaiya Kumar over his alleged involvement in a sedition case.

It is clear that the BJP and the state government of which the saffron party is a part has been rattled by the response the “Jan Gan Man Yatra” has been receiving, it claimed.

“Our delegation had recently met the chief secretary and apprised him of the frequent attacks. We now urge the chief minister (Nitish Kumar) to intervene and ensure safety and security of those taking part in the Yatra or lending support to it,” the statement added.

More and more people from all walks of life are joining the Yatra, claimed Congress MLA Khan who has been accompanying Kumar since the commencement of the tour on January 30.

“We hope to defeat the BJP government’s agenda of hate with love,” Khan told PTI over phone.

Ayushman Bharat: Modi govt hasn’t released a single paisa to Bihar under the scheme

Source: nationalheraldindia.com

After slashing the budget for as many as 18 welfare schemes funded by the Central government, it has come to the fore that the Modi government has not released fund to the Bihar government under the Ayushman Bharat-PM Jan Arogya Yojana (AB-PMJAY) in this financial year.

A source privy to the development told National Herald that the Centre has not released a single paisa to the BJP backed Nitish Kumar government in this financial year.

Although the obvious reason for not allocating a single paisa under the scheme is being cited as the “worst performance” of the state, health experts and leaders of Opposition parties believe responsibility for the implementation of the scheme lies with the ruling party.

“They cannot blame others for the poor performance of the state as BJP-JDU government has been at the helm for several years. They cannot escape the responsibility,” said a whistleblower and an expert who was involved in the formulation of the policies for Ayushman Bharat.

We tried to contact JD(U) spokespersons for their response but they either refused to comment or evaded the question saying, “It is an issue related with the governance”.

We were referred to talk to the Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey. But when we tried to reach out to the minister, we were told that “he is busy and he will get back to us as and when he gets time.”

“Health minister himself has admitted that his ministry has no expertise in carrying out such schemes. ‬‪It shows the apathy and lack of seriousness on part of the NDA government. The dysfunctional and broken healthcare system in Bihar is a glaring example of how Nitish Kumar led NDA government failed people of Bihar,” said Sanjay Yadav,” an RJD leader and political advisor to Tejashwi Yadav.

It is important to mention here that out of ₹1,699 crore released by the Centre under AB-PMJAY this year to various states, Bihar got no grant despite having over one crore intended beneficiary families.

According to the data released by the health ministry, Bihar registered just around 156,000 hospital admissions under the scheme since its launch about 17 months ago, and only about 40 lakh individual e-cards have been issued in Bihar so far.

“Three large states (Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar) which account for 30% of the beneficiary population are implementing the scheme for the first time and hence their demand is still picking up,” the Union Health Ministry told Parliament last week.

Experts believe that the poor performance of UP and Bihar has had a sharp impact on the scheme, whose allocation in the revised budget of 2019-20 has been halved to ₹ 3,200 crore from an initial allocation of ₹ 6,400 crore.

According to the government’s own submission, just ₹100 crores have been allocated to the BJP-ruled UP so far owing to its poor performance. Even out of the revised allocation of ₹3,200 crores, the Centre has been able to spend only ₹1,699 crore which is just over half of the total allocation.

7 injured in bomb explosion at a house in Bihar’s Patna

Source: english.jagran.com

Patna | Jagran News Desk: Seven people were injured in a blast at a house in Bihar’s Patna on Monday, reported news agency ANI. According to initial reports, the blast was so strong that it damaged two houses in the area. 

The authorities, including a team of Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), reached the spot immediately and started an investigation. Reports suggest that the blast occured at a house in the street number one of the Salimpur Ahara of Gandhi Maidan in Patna.   

“7 people have been injured in the incident. Doctor has said that they have superficial burns, not blast injuries. The forensics team will be here shortly. Victim has stated that she had gone to heat some water, when the gas cylinder caught fire,” SSP Patna Upendra Sharma, quoted by news agency ANI, said.”It seems a bomb that had been kept at this house exploded, damaging two houses. Injured people have been shifted to a hospital,” he added.

The injured have been admitted to the Patna Medical College and Hospital, and condition of one of them is stated to be serious, said D Amarkesh, City Superintendent of Police (Central).

Amarkesh further said that it may seem like a small LPG cylinder with an oven fitted to it may have exploded while adding that the forensic team is collecting samples to ascertain the exact cause. 

However, locals claimed that it was not a cylinder blast but a bomb explosion. Some eyewitnesses said the intensity of the blast was so severe that two adjoining buildings were damaged.

The blast was heard a few hundred meters away, they said. 

PK & KK: Do Bihari, sub par bhari!

Source: nationalheraldindia.com

They could be defining faces of the decade, Forbes India has said. These 2 Bihari men have however been part of political parties with a limited support base

They could be the defining faces of the decade, said Forbes India while releasing a list of 20 Indians to watch out for in 2020. The two Bihari men have however been part of political parties with limited support base and credited with not too bright a future.

Neither JD(U), which expelled Kishor after he baited JD(U) president Nitish Kumar for not opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) nor the Communist Party of India, boasts of a large base in Bihar.

But at a time when communism is facing an existential challenge in India and abroad, Kanhaiya Kumar has been drawing huge crowds in his public meetings. He connects with people even better than Lalu Prasad Yadav. He speaks well, explains complex legal, economic or political issues simply and is an aggressive critic of the BJP and Narendra Modi.

While Kishor is a Brahmin, Kanhaiya happens to be a Bhumihar. But there the similarities end. Kumar hails from a poor family while Kishor’s father was a doctor. Unlike Kumar, Kishor is the quintessential backroom boy, a political and communication strategist. His public speaking skills remain untested while Kumar has already the makings of a mass leader.

Kishor in his early forties is already a veteran of many elections. After leaving his job with a UN body, he returned to help BJP win the Gujarat assembly election in 2011. He thereafter set up Narendra Modi’s Prime Ministerial campaign and is credited to have masterminded it. But after 2014 he parted ways with the BJP and signed up with Nitish Kumar to manage the campaign of the Maha Gathbandhan or Grand Alliance (RJD-JD(U) and Congress) in the Bihar election in 2015.

Since then Kishor has been either consulted or engaged by Mamata Banerjee, M.K. Stalin, Arvind Kejriwal, Captain Amrinder Singh and even Chandra Babu Naidu. No wonder he has kept people guessing about his next assignment.

His relations with Modi and Amit Shah remain an enigma. While Kishor has often boasted of excellent relations with the PM, he has never been very forthcoming about his relations with Amit Shah. But Nitish Kumar did publicly say last month that he had inducted Kishor in the party at the behest of Amit Shah.

While Kanhaiya Kumar has a PhD in African Studies from JNU, Prashant Kishor worked in the health sector in Africa for the United Nations.

While Marxism may have lost its appeal among the poor and the working classes, election of leftist governments in Nepal and Mexico in two corners of the world also speak of the continuing relevance of leftist ideas.

Both of them seem to be on the same page as the Congress on several issues. And while Kishor has publicly praised Congress leaders for opposing the CAA, Kanhaiya Kumar is accompanied by Congress MLA and a former JNUSU president himself Shakeel Ahmed, on his month-long ‘Jana Gana Mana Yatra’, which will conclude at Patna on February 29.

Whatever political direction their political journey eventually takes, the duo are sure to play key roles in the Assembly election later this year.

‘Mai Mati’ drama staged on identity of Jharkhand

Source: dailypioneer.com

To promote the art and culture of Jharkhand, the Department of Tourism, Art, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs in collaboration with Nav Pratibha Sansthan, Ranchi presented a drama ‘Mai Mati’ on February 10 at Sushila Palace in Ranchi.

The chief guest for the occasion was MLA Mathura Prasad Mahto. Assistant Director Art and Culture Department Vijay Paswan, Food Safety Commission member Hardhar Mahto, Padma Shri recipients Mukund Nayak and Madhi Mansuri Hasmukh were also present on the occasion with others.

The main focus of the drama was to give a message that State can protect Jul Jungle Zameen only by following the footsteps of the brave sons of State.

The artist through the drama also tried to give a message on how the sons of soil fought to protect Jul Jungle Zameen and also against the mighty Mughals and British.

In the drama, the saga of Thakur Vishwanath Shahdeo was also staged in a simplified way. It also urged the audience to beware of trouble makers in the State.

Neha Navneeta did justice to her character along with Vinod Mahto and Jaideep Sahay who demonstrated superb acting skills as Englishmen. Actor Sanjay Nayak who portrayed the role of a soldier urged the people to fight for their rights.

The Chief Guest for the occasion MLA Mathura Prasad Mahto praised the performances of the artists and said that Jharkhand is a rich centre of art and culture and both art and artists need to be preserved.

Member of Food Safety Commission said that Jharkhand is identified with culture and the people in the rural areas have managed to preserve it.

Jharkhand infant dies after vaccination

Source: thehindu.com

Probe ordered by health department

An infant has died after he was administered a vaccine at a government health centre in Jharkhand’s Ramgarh district, Health officials said here on Sunday.

A probe has been ordered into the incident, they said.

Ramgarh Civil Surgeon Dr. Neelam Chaudhary said that three-month-old male child died on February 6 after being administered Penta-2 vaccine to protect from multi-diseases.

The Civil Surgeon said that a probe has been ordered by the health department after the incident came to light, adding that the District Rural Child Health Officer Dr. Vinay Mishra would inquire into the death of the infant.

The infant, identified as Rohan Kumar, son of Rohit Mahato of Patratu village under Gola block of the district died after he was given the vaccine in the government health centre at Gola, said another government official.

Mithlesh Singh, a local representative of the World Health Organisation, said that a case reporting format has been furnished with details of the death of the child after vaccination, adding “the vaccine is safe and given to other children also”.

Bangla border to Lucknow via Gaya: CAA protests aren’t just about CAA

Source: indianexpress.com

As Shaheen Bagh took centrestage in the high-octane campaign in the Capital, The Indian Express travelled from West Bengal, Ground Zero of the NRC debate, to UP, which saw the most deaths in the crackdown. To find out how Shaheen Bagh plays out, how the protests unite — and divide

At precisely 5.17 pm on January 30, at a days-old dharna that calls itself “anishchitkaleen (indefinite)” even as it hugs, precariously, the edge of the Gaya-Sasaram highway in Bihar, participants from village Sherghati Hamzapur lit candles and observed a two-minute silence.

The flickering lights and the sudden hush in the winter dusk were a mark of respect for the Father of the Nation, assassinated by Nathuram Godse 72 years ago.

The banner behind a small table that doubled as a stage bore portraits of Gandhi, Ambedkar and Maulana Azad. Miniature Tricolour flags fluttered overhead, and posters said No CAA, No NRC, No NPR. Another poster bore a more fundamental assertion: “Jahan paida hue wahin dafan bhi honge (we will be buried in the land we were born in).” And a touch of the apocalyptic: “Jeet gaye to watan mubarak, haar gaye to kafan mubarak (if we win we win our homeland, if we lose we lose everything).”

Yet, more insistently than apocalypse or Shaheen Bagh, the protesters of Sherghati Hamzapur invoked India’s Constitution.

“We believe that Articles 14, 15 and 21 are violated by the (citizenship amendment) law. If you are giving someone citizenship, we have no problem, but you are playing with Article 15,” said Masroor Alam, referring to the constitutional right against discrimination on grounds of religion.

Alam, who as a “JP senani” was jailed during the Jayaprakash Narayan-led uprising against the then Congress government in the ‘70s, is convenor of the “Samvidhan Bachao Nagrik Morcha”, an outfit recently floated to oppose the citizenship law that fast-tracks citizenship for six minorities from three neighbouring countries while excluding Muslims, as well as the proposed National Register of Citizens, which would set cut-off dates, demand proof of citizenship.

Both Alam and his fellow protesters make an effort to frame their opposition as one that does not speak only of, or only to, Muslims. “Ghar beh jaate hain, paani kissi ko bakshta nahin (floodwaters don’t spare anyone). The poor, SCs-STs, don’t have documents,” said Noor ul Huda, retired government employee.

The sit-in by the highway was smaller, but not very different from that in Shantibagh in Gaya town, over 40 km from there, or at other sites farther away that The Indian Express visited in the journey from Kolkata to Lucknow — the large protests in Kolkata’s Park Circus, Gaya’s Shanti Bagh and Old Lucknow’s Ghanta Ghar, to the not-so-large dharnas in Dhanbad’s Wasseypur, Mohalla Bhandaridih in Giridih and Bhai Khan Ka Bagh in Sasaram.

For one, they are all located in Muslim-dominated localities — in a public maidan or makeshift clearing, or sliced by the busy road, as in Bhandaridih.

But if the locale is “Muslim”, the language of the protest at each and every site asserts — even as it seeks — larger solidarities.

At Kolkata’s Park Circus, many emphasise that the maidan hosts both the namaz and the pooja pandal. Posters and banners frame signs and symbols of the Constitution and the founding fathers, not any political party or religion. A banner spells it out at Park Circus politely: “Kindly leave your party affiliation and banner outside the gate. Thank you.”

Across dharnas, there is a notable presence of women, many with children who run around and play or read their schoolbooks — some recite a poem in the break between speeches. Many women say they have not stepped out of home to participate in a public protest before this.

But most of all, the similarity across the anti-CAA-NRC-NPR protests is that they are not simply about the CAA, NRC or NPR.

Even as they express opposition to a citizenship law seen as discriminatory, and to a proposed nationwide NRC process that grievously fumbled in its first rollout, they are more than just about law and an undue process. They are, really, about a distilled message and perception — of exclusion — that has travelled far and touched deep in India’s minority community. And become the centre of a vortex of insecurities.

In 2014, the election of the Modi government with a large majority, and its re-election last year stoked these insecurities.

But what appears to make the CAA-NRC moment different for Muslims, seemingly across gender, place and profession, is that the law and the proposed register strike at that most essential of ideas, most primal of comforts — home and citizenship.

It also comes when distrust of the Modi government deepened on the back of decisions that were either seen to target Muslims — triple talaq and abrogation of Article 370, and the court’s handing over of the site of the demolished masjid in Ayodhya for the mandir — or had hurt vulnerable sections of the minority community disproportionately, like the disruption of demonetisation and bungled transition to GST. “Humko bedakhal aur beghar kiya ja raha hai. Yeh wajood ki ladai hai (We are being ousted. This is about our very existence),” is the underlying strain.

Nobody knows where this moment will go, and how it will end.

But for now, the legal fact that the CAA provides and doesn’t take away citizenship offers no comfort. Prime Minister Modi’s statement that there is no talk of an NRC holds little assurance. Minority fears and anxieties have the sharpest edge in West Bengal, where the border with Bangladesh and Assam’s botched NRC loom closest, and the CAA-NRC have become the prime currency of political exchange between the ruling TMC and challenger BJP.

At the Park Circus Maidan dharna, on since January 7, Baby Razia, who divides her time between a job in the corporation and the protests, says, “We should have come out before. I have voter ID, Aadhaar, PAN, now where will I get the birth certificates of my parents? I recently discovered Rs 17,000 that I had kept away from everyone’s gaze in my closet, till demonetisation made it useless. We tolerated everything: Notebandi, GST, triple talaq, mandir. Now, look at Assam, will we have to go to a (detention) camp?”

Not far, in Ripon Street, where black tangles of electricity cables overhang neighbourhoods and interrupt the sky, Ashrafi, who is preparing for the civil services, says she, too, attended the Park Circus protest. “I have never done this before. But when I went to meet a principal of a college dressed in a burqa recently, the watchman said to me, are you carrying a bomb. Why would he say that? This government’s nationalism is measured by the anger it shows against Pakistan.”

“Women are coming out more because of demonetisation ka khunnas (exasperation). And because they think it has now come down to their children,” says Anjum, who ghostwrites novels.

In Eksahara village in Howrah, Jahid Malik asks: “If in Assam, even the name of a Kargil hero was left out of the list of citizens, what is the guarantee my name will be in it?”. And “if centuries of proof couldn’t save the Babri masjid, will we be able to protect our citizenship by showing 70 years’ worth of documents?” says Mehraj Alam.

Away from Kolkata and Bengal, too, opposition to CAA-NRC remains the thin end of a bulkier fear in the Muslim mohalla in Jharkhand, Bihar and UP.

At the dharna which began on January 2 in Wasseypur, Dhanbad, under a shamiana festooned with saffron, green and white balloons, Abu Talha, part-time teacher, says, “This will be a long fight. Because this is the biggest humiliation of all. Can documents be the criteria of belonging?”

In village Bagodar of Giridih district, Mohammad Ansari, a driver who has become jobless recently, says, “There was talk here in Jharkhand that we would have to show land records before 1932 to prove we are original Jharkhandis, but that died down. Now the Centre has started this.” Both Hindus and Muslims have reason to fear, says Mohammad Ismail, but “sarkar ki manmani (government whim)” hurts Muslims more — because “they can dub us bahri ghuspaithiye (outsiders and infiltrators)”.

There is a new anxiety in her household, says Sadaf Taquaddus, a student in Sasaram who works as a radio announcer in Prasar Bharati. “My brother studied in Jamia, still lives in Jamia Nagar. We want to live with everyone without apprehension. My grandmother in Jehanabad adopted a Yadav boy. I don’t want that India to change.”

Sadaf says she recently sat for the teachers’ eligibility test. “My job prospects are already dim. This is what needs attention. We have already given our fingerprints, our biometrics.”

And “what is the guarantee that you (government) will accept them (documents)?”, S N M Rizvi, businessman, points to the core of the disbelief that has been given a name by the CAA-NRC.