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Skye Arundhati Thomas


30 January 2020

Upholding the Constitution

On 20 December 2019 – ten days into protests across India against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens – Chandrashekhar Azad tweeted that he would be at a rally at the Jama Masjid (the biggest mosque in Delhi). Azad is the leader of the Bhim Army, a Dalit resistance movement. The police arrested him ahead of the demonstration but he escaped, slipping away into the winding lanes of the old city. The police withdrew permission for the gathering and invoked Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which prohibits the ‘unlawful assembly’ of four or more people. But thousands were already on their way to the mosque, many travelling from the neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. The evening prayers began, as people gathered at the mosque steps. Police and media surrounded them. After prayer, the crowd turned to face the cameras, slowly unfurling their signs and flags. From somewhere in their midst, Azad emerged, holding up a copy of the Indian constitution.

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