Published: 23rd December 2019
Inspired by Indulekha: This Hindu sound engineer came dressed as a Muslim to Kochi CAA protest
At Kochi's Long March against NRC and CAA, we spoke to a young Hindu man dressed as a Muslim — it's understandable why he was getting so many eyeballs, really
A few days ago, we'd written about Indulekha Parthan, a law student who came dressed in a burqa and hijab to an anti-NRC-CAA protest in Kochi. She also held a placard that said, "I am Indulekha. Identify me by my dress?". The 18-year-old law student probably wouldn't have known on that day that she was creating a legacy.
Cut to the citizen's Long March against the CAA and NRC on December 23 in Kochi. That was where we met Sreenath K, a sound engineer who is also based in the city. Standing in front of the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium with a group of friends, he was dressed in a long black cotton kurta and a black dhoti. A kirpan clung to the kurta's pocket. He also wore a couple of pendants tied to a black thread around his neck. The icing on the cake was a multi-coloured skull cap. In his hand, he also held a placard that said, "Identify me by my dress?"
In India, that's as multi-cultural as it gets, while trying to look like a Muslim.
Sreenath was one of the hundreds of protestors who walked 7 km from the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium to the Cochin Shipyard, protesting against the CAA and the NRC. "The Prime Minister had said that arsonists can be identified by their clothing. I did not agree to that. Hence, I wore these clothes. I was also inspired by the law student Indulekha," he says.
Sreenath says that he tried to dress as 'Indian' as he could. When we wondered how, he explained how his clothes had been sourced from across the country, "I was travelling around the country a few months back. I got the cap from Himachal Pradesh, the kirpan from Punjab and the pendant from Rajasthan. However, I'm wearing all these together for the first time."
Apart from Sreenath, the protest also saw a lot of non-Muslims clad in skull caps and hijabs, asking the Prime Minister to identify them by their clothes. Interestingly, a bare-chested protestor wore a Santa Claus' mask and asked the same question.
Why is Srinath against the NRC and the CAA. "Both are discriminatory on the basis of religion. Also, how will the citizens who get rejected through NRC prove their citizenship?" he asks.