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Shaheen Bagh protests: Deep dive into how JNU ‘student’ and The Wire columnist Sharjeel Imam went from ‘let us burn Constitution’ to ‘saving it’

How organic are these protests at Shaheen Bagh? Like every drama, there's a twist here. For this we will have to go back to a few weeks when the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict was out

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OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

If you have been on Twitter you wouldn’t have missed how people are applauding the women at Shaheen Bagh who have taken over the bus stop and essentially blocked a highway protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act. There are tweets how women are showing a way by protesting in the middle of the night in Delhi’s coldest winters in decades.

The 20-day-old child and the mother are quite a rage, especially since they claim to be fighting to ‘save the constitution’.

These are widely circulated as ‘organic’ protests in a bid to ‘save the constitution’. Except, like every drama, there’s a twist here. For this, we will have to go back to a few weeks when the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict was out. A conversation in a WhatsApp group of JNU students right after the Ayodhya verdict gives a clearer picture of how the Shaheen Bagh ‘organic’ protests blocking the highway culminated.

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Sharjeel expressing his desire to burn the constitution after the Ram Janmabhoomi verdict.

One Sharjeel is saying how he would like to burn the constitution as the 1500 page Ram Jamnabhoomi Supreme Court verdict is too much to burn. On November 9, 2019, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Ram Lalla and gave the land rights to the Hindus, paving way for construction of Ram Mandir where Babri Masjid was built after demolishing the temple. The Supreme Court also ruled that the government should give the Muslims a 5-acre land to build a mosque, should they so wish.

Some tried to reason with Sharjeel by putting out a disclaimer that they are not being ‘constitutionalist’, but burning it may attract legal consequences.

Sharjeel asking Muslims to come together and reject the constitution

Sharjeel then said how he’d like to have a ‘constitution burning ceremony’ in JNU. He explains how this verdict is a ‘watershed moment’ and that the Muslims who are ‘singing praises of the constitution’ must send a ‘clear message’ that ‘we do not believe in the constitution’. Hence, the same should be burnt, as per Sharjeel.

He said how a couple of dozen ‘Indian Muslims and non-Muslims’ should be enough.

Sharjeel would rather burn the constitution than the judgement.

When someone suggested that he could rather burn the judgement instead, Sharjeel reiterated how he’d prefer burning the constitution.

Who exactly is Sharjeel?

Sharjeel Imam is studying Modern History at JNU. He has studied Computer Science at IIT Bombay and has been a columnist with Leftist propaganda website The Wire, The Quint and even FirstPost.

In his free time, he likes to incite a mob to take to violence and block roads.

The above video was uploaded by Facebook group ‘Muslim Students of JNU’ on 14th December 2019. It was shot at Jamia Nagar, outside the Jamia Millia Islamia university. Imam is telling the mob that properties of Muslims were confiscated and they were sent to Pakistan.

At around 40 seconds after invoking the Quran and implying how it is above Constitution, he explains how he is a JNU students and along with a few Muslim students of JNU, want to do a ‘chakkajam’ (blocking roads and bringing life to a standstill) in Delhi. “Aur sirf Delhi mein hi nahin, jis sheher mein Musalman kar sakta hai. Musalman Hindustan ke 500 sheheron mein chakkajam kar sakta hai (not just in Delhi but in every city where Muslims are, there should be chakkajam. Muslims can bring life to a halt in as many as 500 cities in India),” he announces.

Kya Musalmanon mein itni haisiyat bhi nahin ki uttar Bharat ke shehron ko band kara jaa sake? (Don’t Muslims even have that much in them to shut down cities of north India?)”, he asks the crowd. He then asks Muslims, whose population is 20%, to be ashamed as how are the cities still functioning? “Hindustan ka Musalman shehri hai, sheher band kijiye. (Indian Muslims live in the city. Shut down the cities),” he says. He further asks the mob to shoo away those Muslims who try to put sense into them.

Invoking Quran, he says in Quran it is written that if someone throws you out of the house, then throw them out of the house. Imam then says that the constitution is fascist.

At around 5 minutes into the video, Sharjeel Imam says how people should not worry as this is Delhi and any police action will get international reaction. “Aag lagane ke liye do kaam karna hoga. Laathi khaane ke liye taiyar rehna hoga, aur number do, organise hoga hoga, (You’ll have to do two things to fan the fire: be ready to take the blows of the lathis and get organised)”

Sharjeel Imam tells the mob not to get swayed by those who invite them to Jantar Mantar to protest. “If they care, they should come to us. We will see who does,” he says. “Do not have hopes on AISA or Aam Aadmi Party,” he says. “We want to bring Delhi to a halt. We want to close down shops, stop milk supply in Delhi,” he says.

Sharjeel Imam has also been at the forefront of the ‘dharnas’ being held at Shaheen Bagh.

Today is our 15th day of blocking the highway masha allah.

Posted by Sharjeel Imam on Sunday, December 29, 2019

He takes quite pride in blocking the highway for 15th consecutive day. Shaheen Bagh bus stop, where these ‘protests’ are being held to ‘save the constitution’ is about 3 kms from Jamia Millia Islamia, where Sharjeel gave the inciting speech on 14th December.

This is our 13th day. We need people on this road tonight. Police might try to dislodge us in the night. Please be here in large numbers for whole night. -Shaheenbagh Bus Stop#ShaheenBaghResists

Posted by Sharjeel Imam on Thursday, December 26, 2019

He has been giving calls to block highways on Facebook.

12th day and counting. Please lockdown all highways.

Posted by Sharjeel Imam on Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Just to remind everyone, Sharjeel Imam is one of the members leading the ‘organic protests’ at Shaheen Bagh, to ‘save the constitution’ which he wanted to burn a month back after Ayodhya verdict.

But wait, there is more.

Imam’s hateful speech outside Jamia Millia Islamia asking everyone to do a ‘chakkajam’ in Delhi was put up on Facebook on 14th December 2019 late in the night. On 15th December 2019, Delhi Traffic Police put up an alert on Twitter that traffic movement was closed from Sarita Vihar to Kalindi Kunj due to protests at Shaheen Bagh.

These are on 15th December 2019, Sunday, around 2 PM. On 15th December is when the violence escalated in Jamia and Police had to use force to contain the rioting mob. Police have maintained that the rioting mobsters entered Jamia premises and they had to enter the varsity to flush the rioters. Highly placed sources in the intelligence agencies tell that the agencies believe the protests at Shaheen Bagh are being held to protect some of the miscreants who may be hiding there. The women and children ‘leading the protests’ is just a cover so that should the police use force, they get painted as monsters. The intelligence agencies are keeping a tight vigil on these demonstrations.

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