More than 50 social workers, trade union leaders and activists met at Bhutgarhia Chowk in Jharia on Republic Day, Sunday, for a discussion to safeguard India’s constitutional ethos.
The Indian Constitution turns 70 in 2020 at a time the country is polarised over the new document-based citizenship matrix that its critics say is discriminatory and violates the spirit of the Constitution.
Titled Samvidhan Diwas Sabha, the event under the banner of Dalit-Muslim Ekta Manch began with the unfurling of the national flag by a contract worker, Gorelal Bhuian, and a reading of the Preamble.
A host of speakers including state convener of Dalit Shoshit Mukti Manch Shiv Balak Paswan, president of Jharkhand Rickshaw Mazdoor Sangh Prem Bachchan Das, president of Rajak Kalyan Samiti Kailash Rajaj, secretary of Dalit-Muslim Ekta Manch Abdul Hamid, among others, spoke on the need to fight any attempt to alter the constitutional ethos.
“Recent citizenship laws are against the right to equality guaranteed in the Constitution. We should be ready for a protracted battle,” said Paswan. “As per government data of 2015, more than 30 crore people in India are landless, 1.7 crore are homeless, 14 crore are nomads, 8.20 crore are tribals. Many of these people have no documents to prove their citizenship,” he said. “I don’t have many papers. My father worked at a jute mill in Calcutta and later shifted to Jharia.”
Prem Bachchan Das said India was standing at the crossroads. “The Constitution gave rights to poor people like us, was our source of strength. Only our unity at this crucial time will help us secure the sanctity of the Constitution.”