On Sunday, Kerala ushered in the 71st Republic Day by forming a 620-kilometre long human chain from north Kerala's Kasargod to Kaliyikkavila in the southernmost part of the state to protest against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act(CAA) and National Register Of Citizens(NRC).
In one of the largest gathering the state has ever witnessed, around 70 lakh people stood shoulder to shoulder in the event organised by the ruling Left Democratic Front(LDF).
While Senior leader and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) politburo member S Ramachandran Pillai led the chain at Kasargod, it ended with Politburo member from the state MA Baby at Kaliyikkavila. The event also saw the presence of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with his family members, at Martyr's column in Palayam Thiruvananthapuram.
"The participation has been overwhelming, and the message is very clear that we do not accept CAA as this divides people based on religion. Even various countries, as well as the UN, have said that this should not happen," Vijayan said during the protest.
"Kerala, in essence, is an argument for equality. The people of this land are unapologetically secular. The #KeralaHumanChain of today is yet another example of our unity. This battle, we will not rest, and we shall overcome," Vijayan said in a tweet.
Kerala, in essence, is an argument for equality. The people of this land are unapologetically secular. The #KeralaHumanChain of today is yet another example for our unity. This battle, we will not rest and we shall overcome.#HumanChain pic.twitter.com/W3Hprr7E8t— Pinarayi Vijayan (@vijayanpinarayi) January 26, 2020
After forming the human chain, the Preamble to the Constitution was read out, and the participants took the oath to preserve the country's secular and democratic character.
From politicians and writers to activists and Muslim and Christian clerics, people from all walks of life took part in the protest. Several newlyweds were also present at the protest.
"Kerala rewrites history. It was a 620-kilometre human wall in defence of the Constitution of India from the marauding Hindutva vandals. The expectations were that 3 million would participate, but more than double number seems to have turned up. Kerala says NO to CAA," said state Finance Minister in a tweet.
Kerala rewrites history. It was a 620 kilometre human wall in defence of the constitution from the marauding hindutva vandals. The expectations were that 3 million would participate but more than double number seems to have turned up . Kerala says NO to CAA. #AgainstCAA_NRC_NPR— Thomas Isaac (@drthomasisaac) January 26, 2020
However, despite the ruling LDF inviting every opponent of CAA, the Congress-led United Democratic Front(UDF) did not take part in the protests.