Rahul Rajkhowa, 23, a musician from Assam, has written a powerful song to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which is currently awaiting the Rajya Sabha’s approval.
The Bill seeks to provide citizenship status of Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Parsi, Christian or Buddhists migrating to India from Afghanistan, Pakistan or Bangladesh. However, the provision does not extend to Muslim migrants or other minorities such as Jews.
Assam has not been happy with the Bill as many in the state including major political parties believe that Hindus, Sikhs and others fleeing persecution in Bangladesh to Assam will have a counter-productive effect on indigenous Assamese people. Over the past few months, the state has been plunged in violent protests and even BJP’s coalition partner Assam Gana Parishad has spoken against the passing of the Bill.
In light of the protests, 23-year-old Rajkhowa has written and performed a rap song about the Citizenship Amendment Bill. In it, he lists out all the problems he felt with the current government. He said that while the Narendra Modi-led government talked about progress, it could not ‘clean up’ the country even after five years. Noting the government’s apparent tendency to not address criticism, he added that it played the blame-game whenever someone pointed out a mistake.
Rajkhowa, who graduated in History from St Stephen’s College in Delhi and went on to pursue a masters degree in Jawaharlal Nehru University, has been rapping for some years now. He raps about injustice, inequality, sexism, and jingoism. In 2017, his rap attacking rape jokes and nationalism went viral. He has even appeared in the film ‘Bewakoofiyaan’ alongside Ayushmaan Khurana and Sonam Kapoor.
In the Citizenship Bill rap, the activist goes on to talk about the Bill and how it is affecting the people of Assam as well as others.
Rajkhowa also accused the government of failing secularism with the Bill and using divisive politics.
Many Assamese have also protested against the Bill, saying that it goes against the Assam Accord signed in 1985 between Rajiv Gandhi and AASU. According to the agreement, persons entering Assam after March 24, 1971 will be considered illegal immigrants and deported.
In the rap, Rajkhowa says that the increase in immigrants that the Bill may cause will add to the many existing problems of unemployment, environmental erosion, poaching of wildlife and man-animal conflicts that exist in the state. “With 10 lakh immigrants, north-east is going to be crammed,” the activist sang.
His angry lyrics have moved many on social media, which has turned into a hotbed for criticism and counter-criticism of the proposed Bill. And Rajkhowa’s rap, which was released on his Youtube channel on Jan 30 already has over 24,000 views.
“You wanted more like you so you sacrifice my NE (North-East),” he rapped.
Widespread protests have engulfed states in the northeast after the government passed the Bill in the Lok Sabha during the winter session on January 8.
Section 144 has been imposed in Imphal and all internet services were suspended on Monday night, as massive protests jolt the state capital.
On Sunday, at least six women were injured when police fired tear gas shells at a group of people who had gathered to protest against the bill in Imphal. The violent protests against the Bill continued on Monday and the police used tear gas to dispel the agitators.
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