Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan called sloganeering protesters taking part in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests “dirty stinking potholes”. He made the contentious remark at an academic conference he was addressing on December 28 after some of the audience objected to him endorsing the controversial new citizenship law.
Some persons attending the governor’s speech, who were not in favour of CAA, began raising slogans when khan began supporting the Act in public. Irked by the response, the visibly irritated governor said: “You cannot shout me down... You have come with an agenda.”
Attacking the sloganeers and protesters, who were standing at the back of the hall, he said: “It was for the likes of you that Maulana (Azad) said partition took away the dirt but left behind dirty water in potholes... it is stinking. You are causing a foul smell. Maulana Azad made the remarks for the likes of you.”
Notably, the situation in Left-ruled Kerala has been volatile for almost a month now, with more than 30 deaths being reported as an outcome of the protests. However, maximum protest-related deaths have been reported from states ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party, inviting criticisms over the way the respective governments are handling the rallies. Opposition parties have come forward to reiterate that peaceful assembly is a right guaranteed to the citizens by the Constitution of India.
Even Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the law is an “attack on the secular and democratic fabric of India”. He was one of the first chief ministers to denounce the citizenship law and NRC, saying he would not implement it in Kerala. His will was echoed by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
So far, the heads of nine states, including two BJP allies (Bihar’s Nitish Kumar and Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik), have refused to implement NRC and in their respective states.
Meanwhile, the ruling party at the Centre has alleged that most of the opposition parties, especially the Congress, are instigating the masses by spreading misinformation to blow a dent to the BJP’s popularity.