Thiruvananthapuram: Taking its protest against the amended citizenship law to the next level, the CPM-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) formed a state-wide human chain in Kerala on India's 71st Republic Day.
The state witnessed the massive protest demanding withdrawal of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on Sunday.
The 620-km long human chain stretched from Kasaragod in north Kerala to Kaliyakkavilai in the southernmost part of the state. About 60 to 70 lakh people participated in the event.
The human chain was formed at 4 PM, following which the preamble of the Constitution was read out.
Later, an oath was taken to protect the Constitution from the "attempts of the Central government" to destroy it.
Senior CPI(M) leader S Ramachandran Pillai was the first link of the 620-km-long human chain at Kasaragod, while M A Baby was the last link at Kaliyakkavilai.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, along with his family members, stood in the chain at Palyam in the heart of the state capital.
"Peaceful protests are possible when the entire population unites. We can take pride in this fact. The participation in the human chain has been overwhelming. The message is clear- we do not accept CAA as this divides people on the basis of religion. Nations across the world and the United Nations should not have let this happen," Pinarayi said in an address later.
"In Kerala, we have already made it clear that neither NPR nor NRC will happen. We cannot rest until the CAA is withdrawn," he said.
Many prominent personalities from all walks of life also participated in the human chain.
At Kayamkulam in Alappuzha district, a newly-wed couple joined the protest after local CPI-M legislator, Prathiba Hari, extended an invite to them to join the protest.
"I do not have much knowledge about things, but when we were asked to take part, we readily agreed. We wish all the best for success of the human chain," said the bride, fully decked in gold. The bridegroom, who was dressed in a suit, said: "We reached here from the marriage hall and once this programme is over, we will go home."
At Kollam when the function was going on a youth shouting "Vande Materam" slashed his wrist. Police who were there immediately took him to a hospital for medical attention. State Minister J Mercykutty, who was also at the spot, claimed that the youth seemed intoxicated.
Participants from Pathanamthitta and Kottayam districts joined the network in Alappuzha district. Though the hilly districts of Idukki and Wayanad organised the human chains in their areas, they were not part of the main chain running from Kasargode to Tamil Nadu border.
The Left front has been in the forefront of anti-CAA protests in Kerala and had organised various protests across the state.
The LDF and the Congress led Opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) had earlier jointly protested against the Act. However, the UDF leadership has ruled out attending Sunday's protest saying they were not consulted while planning the strike.
(With inputs from PTI and IANS.)