When PM Narendra Modi walked into Parliament’s Central Hall to swear allegiance to the Constitution on May 25, there was apprehension among those who saw the BJP’s agenda as a fundamental threat to the principles enshrined in it. The first session of Parliament saw the abrogation of Article 370, besides amendments to the RTI Act, NHRC Act and anti-terror law UAPA—all measures undermining the Constitution. Coupled with the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, talk of a nationwide National Register of Citizens on the heels of 19 lakh people identified for banishment as non-citizens through the exercise in Assam meant official sanction for discrimination against and harassment of India’s 200 million Muslims.
Having displayed extraordinary restraint over the past five years, they now understood they had no choice but to take to the streets for fighting this idea of India. It’s not just Muslims—students from all sections are leading a loose coalition of citizens who have taken to the streets to “save the Constitution”. Not since the Emergency have so many protests broken out, spreading to most urban centres and many rural areas. Mass reading aloud of the Preamble as an affirmation of India’s founding principles is a common feature of the protests as the Constitution and the rights it guarantees citizens are now explicit grounds of contestation.