By Abdul Sattar Shaik
Recently a video caught my attention of the farmer’s agitating against the farm bills 2020. While they were trying to prove the legitimacy and effectiveness of the protests, they somehow pointed out in a very disparaging way that, the protests by the farmers are very different from that of Shaheen Bagh, AMU, Jamia, JNU, and others. The video tries to portray these protests in a poor light, when in comparison to those that the farmers are doing. This article will make an analysis, of how the protests at Shaheen Bagh and others, have led to the events that unfolded and transpired every single protest that would go on to challenge the government. And also see the resemblance and the inspiration which the Shaheen Bagh has benefacted to the farmer’s protests.
The agitation started by the students of Jamia Milla and AMU, in condemning the CAA/NRC/NPR was the first against this government on a mass scale. The protests were a direct result of the bigotry which the BJP has been plotting against the Muslims in the form of a series of events that catalyzed these protests. From mob lynching’s to love jihad murders, meat bans, the imposition of laws on cattle and leather trade to name conversions. The final nail in the coffin was to come out with the introduction of this unconstitutional law which exempts persecuted Muslims from other countries to apply for Indian citizenship and likewise, makes it extremely vulnerable for the Muslims living in this country to be disregarded as citizens based on NPR/NCR regulations.
In an attempt to peacefully demonstrate their right to protest: It was the first time that the future of this nation, the students who woke up to take on this challenge of standing up to what is fundamentally right. It created a domino effect as more and more prominent university students from JNU, IIT and IIM started to participate in these historic protests. More than 25 student organizations from across the country started to hold protests in their regions. There were mass rallies by liberal-minded citizens in various states of the county, along with opposition leaders and social activists from all sections and communities, who felt this law is unconstitutional as it marginalizes one community, and not in cognition with the spirit of equality given to every citizen under the constitution of India.
Unable to take the surprise of seeing the students protesting on roads against the CAA/NRC and marching towards the parliament, A convoy of police were deployed to confront them from approaching, by using tear gas and use of batons to disperse the peaceful protesters and injuring two of them, by open firing them from point-blank range. As the agitation caught on momentum, two days later, the central government ordered hundreds of police to vandalized the Jamia Millia campus. The police brutally assaulted the students present in their hostels and libraries. Many of whom were acting as rouges by intimidating fear and assaulting the students in libraries and tear-gassing the rooms to instill fear and stop the students from protesting. Similar scenes were repeated at the JNU campus in January, where a group of RSS managed student wing, collaborated with local goons-entered the JNU campus and started assaulting the students and sustaining injuries to more than 39 students and faculty members to punish them for participating in the Anti CAA/NRC protests.
These were the very protests, where women for the first time looked into the eyes of the government and dared to say in defiance against the law and started their protest along with children, which eventually became the “Shaheen bagh” as we know. The spot of agitation, started by a group of 10-15 women, blocking the 6-lane highway of Kalindi Kunj Road, eventually took shape into a force as more and more people, across the area started to come and sit in the protests. including many prominent personalities, leaders, and celebrities who were vocal on the subject of CAA/NRC. The protests carried on for 3 months making it the longest sit-in protests in modern India. What exactly is being replicated now on the Singhu, Tikri, and other borders leading to Delhi by the protesting farmers-The whole idea of the farmers marching to the capital to agitate and convince the government to take back the farm laws; is directly inspired by the shaheen bagh and the anti CAA/NRC protests.
This was the same Shaheen bagh which bought further women like Bilkhis Banu, the 70-year-old lady, who became the face of the resistance movements and was nominated as the times most influential 100 People: who inspired many young and old women to leave their houses and their careers to come and sit at the Shaheen Bagh as full-time protestors. This was the same woman, who also wanted to participate in the farmer’s protests and was sent back by the police, because of the international recognition and support it would bring in to the movement. The anti CAA/NRC protests brought forth scenes like, four hijabi women trying to protect one of their male friends, who was brutally being assaulted by the police by forming a protective shield around him, It became the most heroic act of bravery and will, displayed by those four unarmed women. Amit Shah was purportedly so aggravated, that he very famously quipped when he was campaigning for the Delhi elections, appeasing to the BJP voter: “To presses the EVM button with such intensity; that the shock should be received at Shaheen Bagh”.
If the attacks at Jamia and JNU were not enough, The Delhi riots saw the vilest side of the hate-filled politics, an orchestrated riots by the members of the ruling party against the Anti CAA/NRP protesters which spread like fire in the northeast parts of Delhi: claiming the life of 53 people, due to communal enticement, while the politicians remained untouched and scot-free by washing off their hands. The police acted as an accomplice with the rioters by aiding them and neglecting security measures, ignoring to bring law and order, alike to the Gujrat riots. The callousness showed by the police and purposely letting the riots take place is a testimony that they were acting on instructions and were pogroming riots.
The protests brought about worldwide condemnation from various countries and the OHCHR describing the bill: “As fundamentally discriminatory in nature”. The farmer’s protest in comparison hasn’t seen the worst conditions, which prevailed on the CAA/NRC protestors, from police firings to vandalizing campuses, teargassing and assaulting students in hostels. Pro RSS taking out rallies in support of the CAA/NRC which would lead to the Delhi riots, the worst since the Muzaffarabad riots. The farmers always have an upper hand on the government as they create a dependency on them for food. If the farmer doesn’t grow food, the country will starve, which can seriously hamper the economy and can bring chaos. Any form of government and nation is dependent on food to live and it can compel the governments to come down on their knees. But the student and common people cannot create that dependency like the farmers and have limited resources. Yet, the students of Jamia, JNU, AMU, and women at the shaheen bagh, have taught India, how to look into the eye of this fascist government and challenge them, to stand up for what is right.
The columnist holds an MSc in Engineering from the UK and can be contacted at email@example.com