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Farmers’ Bharat Bandh: How it resembles nefarious designs of Shaheen Bagh Chakka Jam and why govt must consider it sedition

Whether it is the BJP government at the centre or a Congress govt. Whether one agrees with the politicise or not, bringing the nation to a halt or even attempting to do so, should invite charges that equal sedition and should be treated as an act of war against the state. Because it is.

Running a state, especially one like India, is not a very easy task. There are way too many dynamics to juggle, small by-lanes over which one may not have much direct control, groups with vested interests, cultural and religious push and pulls, a separate establishment, parts of which are funded by various foreign players giving it their all to scratch festering societal wounds, history of war and subjugation by invading armies, various demands that often border on asinine, so on and so forth. With these varied factors and so many more, the government of India, especially the Modi government that defied the establishment to come to power in 2014 and get re-elected in 2019, seems to be hopping from one artificially created crisis to another.

One recalls so many falsely created crisis situations that the Modi government has fought over the past 6 years. From the Rafale saga to the death of Judge Loya and the false accusations that came with it, to Islamists trying to urge average Muslims to burn the country post-Ayodhya verdict, the anti-CAA conspiracy, the riots that followed and the propaganda that came with it, to now, the farmers protest that have been hijacked by Khalistanis.

While all of these are worrying, India has, over the decades, developed an innate defence mechanism to all of these artificially created issues that keep boiling over from time to time. We keep walking.

Even during the Coronavirus pandemic, Indian citizens first stayed at home as ordered, and then, just went about their work. We find ignoring problems and praying they go away works better for us than forcing the government to act – after all, we have had governments that never bothered to listen to its people for decades, until PM Modi came along.

The ‘liberals’ and the establishment that works independently of the government sensed that. After the anointment of PM Modi as the head of the state, people had more faith. They knew that they could simply go about their lives and the contentious issues would take care of themselves. Charges of corruption have been taken rather seriously in this country in the recent past. Heck, a new political party was born and even managed to win Delhi based on the promise to fight corruption. Of course, that did not happen, but it showed people that India was willing to tackle corruption and there was a thirst for a party that would promise to do that.

While this is still true, why did the Rafale ‘scam’ trope fail to invoke any sort of anger amongst the masses? Simply put, PM Modi has managed to invoke that faith in the people that had long vanished. A faith that had been betrayed so many times that it gave rise to the humiliating idea that this is how things function in India, and nobody can really change it. PM Modi changed that. And the establishment knows it.

So what is their fall-back plan? Calling him a mass-murderer did not work. Accusing him of corruption failed. Calling him Hitler who was conspiring to kill the oh-so-innocent Muslims (who they wanted to compare to Jews) did not work. Discrediting institutions like the judiciary did not work. Discrediting the armed forces during the surgical strikes did not work. Discrediting India when China unleashed its blood-hounds did not work. Nothing seemed to work for the establishment.

That realisation must have hit them like a ton of bricks. None of their falsely created tropes diminished the faith that people had reposed in the Prime Minister.

When none of it worked, they devised a plan to almost punish the people who had reposed their faith in the Prime Minister. Thus began the saga of the anti-CAA riots and what culminated into the Delhi Riots.

While there were myriad of other factors like shaming India internationally, retaliating for the Ayodhya verdict and getting international attention while pushing the ‘Muslims under attack’ trope, the phenomenon that raised its ugly head during the Delhi Riots was ‘Chakka Jam’. A way to cripple the national capital and ultimately, the entire country.

“There are over 30% urban Muslims in UP. Do you have no shame at all? Why cannot you do Chakkajam in UP? The area in Bihar where I am from, the rural Muslim population is 6% while the urban Muslim population is 24%. Indian Muslims mostly live in cities. So it is upon you. You can bring your cities to a halt. If anyone asks you not to, disown them”.

Further, in another video, amidst controversial slogans of “Allah-u-Akbar” and “Naara-e-Taqbeer”, a stunning revelation was made about how rallies organised by Kanhaiya Kumar can be used to instigate 5 lakh Muslims to create riots.

“If 5 lakhs Muslims are organised then we can cut the North-east from rest of India. If we cannot do permanently, at least we can cut North-east from India for months. Our responsibility is to cut the Assam from India then Govt will hear our voice. If we have to help the Assam then we will have to cut the Assam from rest of India.”

These were the words of JNU student and The Wire columnist Sharjeel Imam. The Islamist who is now being credited with organising the Delhi Riots to a large extent. He wanted to get Muslims to bring cities to a halt. He wanted Muslims to do Chakka Jam and occupy Chicken’s Neck (which is a 22 Km strip that connects the rest of India to the Northeast), thereby cutting Northeast off from the rest of India. He wanted Muslims on the road, everywhere, throughout the country, to ensure that we come to a standstill. We, of course, should not forget that he was the mastermind of Shaheen Bagh. And the aim of Shaheen Bagh was to do exactly that. Disrupt peace and civil liberties of other citizens of the city, in the name of protest, with the help of the Islamist media – they succeeded in doing that for a long time.

And what then? Once the country comes to a standstill, what was the next plan?

They would do exactly what AAP leader Tahir Hussain did. In his disclosure statement, Tahir Hussain reveals a sinister plan. He admitted that they had blocked the poolia with thousands of Muslims, and thus, no matter what they did, the police would never be able to breach that mob and enter the area where they were killing Hindus like Ankit Sharma.

He says in his signed Disclosure Statement that according to his plan, he had made several calls to PCR and the Police officers from his own mobile phone to protect himself from taking the blame for the riots that he had engineered and to give himself an alibi. He says he knew that no matter how large the police force was, they would not be able to cross the Pulia because thousands of Muslims had congregated there. Moreover, the Muslim mob was pelting the police force with stones and bricks to ensure that they are chased away. He also said that the mob was burning Hindu homes on both sides of the bridge. 

So what would have happened if Sharjeel Imam had succeeded in getting all Muslims, across the country, to get on the streets and block cities? Would a carnage then be unleashed upon Hindus? Would the Islamists then take revenge from those who threw the establishment out and voted for PM Modi? Tahir Hussain does, after all, say that the aim of the riot was to ‘teach Kafirs a lesson’.

Was that the plan all along? To teach people a lesson? To block roads so the security forces can do absolutely nothing and then, they are free to do what they want?

It would certainly seem so. It would seem that unleashing violence, carnage and disruption on the people of the nation is the only political tool they have left. They probably hope that the people of the country would get so sick of the disruption and the violence, that faith would turn into anger and that anger, instead of being released on the Islamists and Leftists who are actually disrupting lives, would be expressed on Modi and that would result in his ouster.

It did not work, really. The carnage, the propaganda, the disruption, the attempt to halt cities only exposed the establishment more. But they did make headway. They proved that the Shaheen Bagh model worked, to the extent that guilt-tripping the government with propaganda about how it was being done by elderly grannies would get them to not really force, as they should have, given that this was an attempt to bring the country to a halt – by all measures, a traitorous venture.

They have now decided to stick to this model and duplicate it, with only the cause changing.

The Chakka Jam and Bharat Bandh in lieu of the farmers’ agitation is just that – a replication of the Shaheen Bagh model. The cause has changed from anti-CAA to farm bills and the elderly grannies have been replaced with ‘farmers who put food on our table’. The model is the same. Guilt-tripping is the same. Propaganda is the same.

Back then, if you question the ‘Hum Dekhenge’ posters or the ‘Jinnah waali azadi’ slogans, you were monsters who stood against frail, old grannies who were trying to fight for their right. Today, when you question the Khalistani involvement, the boasting about bumping off Indira Gandhi, the death threats to the head of the state and the exalting of Bhinderewal, you are monsters who are demonising poor farmers who put food on your table.

Every time they wish to peddle an illegitimate agenda laden with lies, they create an exalted group that must not be questioned. The grannies of Shaheen Bagh were old and frail, but if they wanted to disrupt the nation and create anarchy, they must be thrown in jail. Farmers do put food on our table, but they are not an exalted group beyond question or reproach. They get remunerated for their produce by the people who buy that produce. The fair trade cannot be painted as a charity to ensure that even the Khalistani agenda of a section of those protesting goes unquestioned. It cannot be used as an excuse to shut down the obvious questions about how farmers from other states are not protesting or how they are now protesting the very amendments that they had demanded just a few years ago.

During CAA, they twisting the laws to say that Muslims would lose their citizenship. They lied blatantly. Now, they are twisting farm laws, the very amendments that the farmer bodies and political parties had themselves demanded, to make it anti-farmer. Then, it was about radical Muslims and Leftists being involved. Now, it is about Khalistanis and even radical Muslims. Then, the media shielded them. Now, the media shields them too. Then, the international community got involved with several countries decrying CAA, now, we see the same with Canada and the UK getting involved. Then, the international media rode on the backs of domestic Islamists and Leftist media to tarnish India, we see the same today.

None of this is about the right to protest. It is about their “right” to bring the nation to a halt to blackmail the state into giving them what they want – politically. It is about politics. It is about holding the back of Modi’s head and rubbing his nose in the mud. It is not about rights or laws. There is no problem with the laws. They are just an excuse to bring the government of India down and humiliate them in front of the international community with the held of a pliant, sold-out media.

It is time that the government outlaws these tactics. People have a right to protest, even if they are protesting for the wrong reasons and lying through their yellow teeth for political ends. What they don’t have the right to do is hold a nation hostage for political ends.

Whether it is the BJP government at the centre or a Congress govt. Whether one agrees with the politicise or not, bringing the nation to a halt or even attempting to do so, should invite charges that equal sedition and should be treated as an act of war against the state. Because it is.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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