Braving the cold weather, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Embassy of India here Sunday to protest against India's controversial Citizen Amendment Act (CAA) and also the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The "Rally Against NRC, CAA", held on Sunday in front of the iconic statue of Mahatma Gandhi, was attended by more than 500 people, making it one of the largest protest rallies held at the venue in recent years, reports The American Bazaar.
A popular chant repeated throughout the protest, was "azadi", a Hindi and Urdu word which translates to "freedom".
"We are not supposed to be like this, we are a secular, democratic republic," said Basil Baby, an immigrant from Kerala.
"Now the government is trying to divide people by their religion or religious views, which is not right. This is not who we are. So we are doing a peaceful protest here."
While a large percentage of the crowd was first-generation Indian American Muslims, the event saw Indian-Americans of different faiths and sub-nationalities. Many first-generation Indian-Americans, who spent their formative years in India, came with their children.
For those present, the protest served two main purposes: to raise awareness and to send a message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the rest of the Indian government.
A resolution passed by the organizers of the rally said the possible implementation of both CAA and NRC "is likely to cause huge conflicts between the majority and minority communities, reducing the citizenship status of Indian Muslims".
"As evidenced by the recent chaos in Assam and Kashmir, and elsewhere, these Acts are likely to cause much harm to the Indian nation and the Indian people," The American Bazaar quoted the resolution as saying
Among the protesters, there were also people who had no connection to India. Charles Stevens, a Northern Virginia resident, said he was at the venue to spread the message of love and connection.
The CAA, which was signed into law on December 12, is meant to grant citizenship to persecuted Hindu, Sikh, Parsi, Jain, Buddhist and Christian minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, excluding all types of persecuted Muslims, including Shias and their sub-sects, Ahmediyas and others.
The passing of this Act has led to widespread protests all across India, especially in the northeastern region of the country.