From JallinwalahBagh to ShaheenBagh

Zamana bade shouque se sun rahatha,
hameen so gaye dastan kehtey kehtey.”

The world was listening with rapt attention;
It were we who slept while narrating the story.

The country is still listening carefully once again when the clarion call of “Save Constitution, Save Democracy and Save India” is emanating from the ramparts of ShaheenBagh, Okhla, New Delhi. Today, this voice raised from AMU, JMI, JNU and ShaheenBagh is redefining Secularism and Indian masses slowly but steadily paying heed to it. Hundreds of ShaheenBaghs are burgeoning all over the country. Indian Secularism is finding its way back into public discourse. The innocent Indian public has begun to realise that the Preambles and Values of Indian Constitution are worth fighting for.

It’s not surprising that ordinary Indians irrespective of caste, creed and religion are participating in the protests that are being organised against CAA and NCR and NPR – the new inductions that erode the credibility of a healthy democracy. Indians are observing that instead of Improving economy, creating jobs and good governance this RSS inspired government is dividing the Indians on religious grounds. If this outfit succeeds in its scheme, this India won’t remain an India of ‘dreams of Gandhi’ but a facsimile of Theoretical Hindu Pakistan.In an India of RSS’ Hindutva, the idea of tolerance and inclusivity would be rendered sterile. The cacophony of the ‘we’ and ‘other’ has already poisoned the minds of young generation; a lot of them have been brainwashed. It’s a sinister agenda and undoubtedly, a putative attempt to isolate the biggest minority of Indian nation.

However, the nation as a whole is awakened by now and the crude attempt of BJP to marshal the might of State with violence, rancour and vendetta is losing steam. It would never succeed to subjugate the voice of REASON. Now, most of the countrymen – the vigilant citizens are joining together to defend the values of Indian Constitution. They are exposing the divisive agenda of Jaundiced rulers that has, so far, refused to lend its ears. For BJP, there is no common ground left for civilized dialogue; for RSS and the rest of the country, it has become a struggle over two mutually exclusive ideas of India.

The nervousness is evident from ad-hoc reactions of BJP governed States. Its leaders are confused rather they have lost their bearings.

They’re firing like loose cannons.And in this backdrop, the BJP government seems to have lost the road as well as the road map. In the world perception India has been placed in the category of ‘Flawed Democracies.’ The world is watching the way BJP governed States and Central government have been violently and intolerably responding to the peaceful demonstrations highlighting the Clarion Call of SECULARISM from ShaheenBagh. The Nagpur Syndrome is not allowing the prejudiced rulers to show concern and pay heed to this ‘Vintage Gandhian Assertion’ that is perhaps the strongest challenge to Fanaticism in the history of India so far.

Especially for a few weeks, the country is showered with provocative, mischievous and threatening statements from Saffron Firmament.
Our West Delhi BJP MP ParveshVerma on this Monday openly threatened ShaheenBagh protesters saying that it will take the BJP only an hour to clear off the protests in the area.

“If the BJP comes to power in Delhi on February 11, we will clear ShaheenBagh of all protest and protesters within one hour. Not a single person will be visible,” he said, appealing people to vote for the BJP in the upcoming elections. Verma added within one month all the existing mosques built on government land will be demolished if the BJP forms government in Delhi. Will someone inform his that more than 50 mosques in Delhi are under control of Archaeological Control even today, It is the other way round. He was addressing a crowd at a community centre in Ranhoula village which falls under the Vikaspuri Assembly constituency in West Delhi.ParveshVerma is the son of BJP politician Saheb Singh Verma that makes a mockery of BJP’s plank of Anti-Vanshwad.

In the show bravado, the BJP’s Anurag Thakur, Union Minister of State for Finance, urged a crowd at an election rally in Delhi to say “goli maaro” – or shoot down traitors – in a widely-shared video that is being examined by the Election Commission.

The minister, who was campaigning for the BJP candidate in Rithala in North West Delhi for the February 8 Delhi election, can be seen prompting “desh ke gaddaronko…“, to which the crowd responds “…golimaaro sa***n ko“; the entire chant translates to “shoot down the traitors who betray the country”. The video was taken at a rally on Monday. Several BJP leaders were present at the time. The BJP candidate from Rithala, Manish Chaudhary, was also on stage when the slogan was being chanted. Later, Home Minister Amit Shah arrived and addressed the same rally. Asked who he believed were the “traitors” who need to be shot down, a defiant Mr Thakur told reporters: “First you should watch the entire video… Then you should see the mood of the people of Delhi.”

Mr Thakur, as junior minister of finance, is part of the team involved in the Union Budget to be announced on Saturday amid a sharp slowdown and worrying growth.

And here is latest threat or howler from Sakshi Maharaj, who had once asked a Girl to unbutton her jeans to show her injuries sustained during a raid in Unnao.
“Those who’re used to receive the kicks won’t bother about dialogue. A day will come when strict action is imminent.”

Public memory is not so week and they could easily recall the statement of Amit Shah, the then BJP General Secretary, in 2014 at Raajhar – a village in western UP. He had issued a call for ‘revenge’ against those who were ‘protecting’ the alleged killers of Jats.
Following his footsteps, Yogi Adityanath who holds a responsible Constitutional position of Chief Minister of the largest State of India, made the most threatening statement :
“Congress party ke netritva me tukde-tukde gang jo Dilli ke ashanti ke liye zimmedar hai, isko dand dene ka samaya agya hai…..” (The Congress-led tukde-tukde gang is responsible for spoiling the peaceful atmosphere in Delhi. The time has come to punish them.)
“Kyunki yeh sab chinhit chehre hain. Wo sab videography mein aachuke hain, CCTV ke footage meina achuke hain. In sab ki property kozapt karke, inse hum iska badla lenge aur sakhti se nipatne ke liye maine iske baare mein kaha hai.” (All their faces have been identified. They are visible in the videography and CCTV footage. We will take revenge by confiscating their properties, I have ordered strict action.)

It is not Yogi speaking in the personal capacity; it is the CM of UP who is supposed to implement law and order in the state. It is the language of fanatical Ideology, an expression of power and arrogance. It reflects that RSS has now begun to understand that ground under its feet is slowly but surely cutting. These sudden fustian sixers of anger from the top echelons is reading the writing on the wall. It is a panic-driven campaign – a gamble of Saffron Brigade to bring back its core vote bank that might have been losing its interest about saffronisationoIndia.

Looming ahead are Delhi elections where AAP seems to be poised for spectacular victory. The gain the lost round, the flare up of communal fire, the ignition of Hindutva cannon using CAA etc could be helpful in the strategy of BJP’s think-tank. It could never be a dignified opinion otherwise when a Home Minister of the largest democracy upon earth proclaims:
“When you press the button (of EVM) on February 8, do so with such anger that its current (poll result) is felt at ShaheenBagh.” Today, at ShaheenBagh, thousands of women have been in a 24/7 sit-in protest since December 15 against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). The peaceful protests here have inspired several such protests across the country.

The whole world knows that protests in ShaheenBagh erupted spontaneously in opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act, the National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register. It was mainly led by women, the protests have continued uninterrupted for more than a month now. The road blockage at ShaheenBagh have led to a tussle between the Delhi police and the protesters.

And a few old sayings are conjuring up in mind as I read the reactions against the psychedelic changes this peaceful hub of awakening is fostering in the minds of thinking Indians and old Bakts also. ShaheenBagh is turning as an eyesore for the Right Wing Political Strategist as well as the foot soldierswho are well anointed with the RSS’ socio-political and cultural grease:

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
“Despotic power is always accompanied by corruption of morality.”
“Authority that does not exist for Liberty is not authority but force.”

And these threats by the RSS juggernaut reminds me of JallinwalahBagh massacre. On 13th April, 1919, people had gathered to protest against the arrest of the two nationalist leaders, Satya Pal and Dr SaifuddinKitchlew. Suddenly, a British military officer, General Dyer, entered the park with his troops. Without even giving a warning to the people to disperse, he ordered his troops to fire at the unarmed crowd for ten minutes and when their ammunition was exhausted. In those ten minutes, according to the estimates of the Congress, about a thousand persons were killed and about 2000 wounded. The bullet marks can be still seen on the walls of the JallianwalaBagh which is now a national memorial.

There were no official data on the number of deaths during the JallianwalaBagh Massacre. But on the official enquiry of the British revealed that there were 379 deaths and the Congress quoted more than 1000 people died in the massacre.

According to Wikipedia, one Hans Raj (born c. 1890s) who was an Indian became an approver for the British government. Historians have debated whether he was an agent for the police all along or simply took the opportunity to save his own skin by testifying for the British. For several independent knowledgeable writers, he was behind the planning of that massacre.

Rabindranath Tagore, who had been knighted by the British, renounced his knighthood. In his letter to the viceroy, he declared: “The time has come when the badges of honour make our shame glaring in their incongruous context of humiliation and I for my part wish to stand shorn of all special distinctions, by the side of those of my countrymen, who for their so-called insignificance, are liable to suffer a degradation not fit for human beings”. The massacre marked a turning point in the history of the struggle for freedom.

The abject story of Power-Drunk rule seems to repeat after a lapse of a century. Nothing would explain it better than the immense popularity of Faiz Ahmad ‘Faiz’ poem “Hum Dekhenge….” It is now being translated in poetry in most of the Indian languages including the languages of South India.

The Tripura Chief Minister ManikSarkar had once urged the people of the state to resist the nefarious designs of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and the RSS.

“They will turn India into a theocratic state. They will decide what one will eat, wear or with whom one makes friends with.”
The power is slowly slipping from the hands of BJP / RSS like sand of the fist. ShaeenBagh is just a signal for things to come.


Naim Naqvi

Naim Naqvi

Did his graduation in Science discipline from AMU in 1972-73. He was Secretary of University Ali Society in 1970 and M.M. Hall Literary Society in early 70 's and member of Tayyabji Literary Society. Did his Diploma in Bakery Administration from HTT College Oxford Street London in 1987. Worked with National Herald - Delhi, Blitz - Bombay as Trainee Journalist and in Production Department with 'Naya Sansar Pictures' of Khwaja Ahmed Abbas at Bombay in early 70's. Traveled for study and training purposes to Germany, U.K., Switzerland, France, Dubai, Oman, AbuDhabi, Bahrain and Philepines.

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