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Mainstream, VOL 62 No 12, March 23, 2024

Hounding of the Opposition / Election Process / Hunger Strike in Ladakh | Humra Quraishi

Friday 29 March 2024, by Humra Quraishi


28 March 2024

Delhi Chief Minister and APP leader Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest could mean a disastrous turning point for the ruling Right-Wing government. Citizens are left more than baffled seeing the timing of the arrest. Also, the manner in which it was conducted. Compounded by the fact that prominent AAP men are already sitting jailed. Shut and cut off and away from the public domain.
Arvind Kejriwal’s arrest has also brought to the fore a very significant factor which the masses are taking note of. And that is, though the BJP relays that under its rule all Hindus will be taken care of and be well protected. But that’s not going to happen! All those ‘Hindu Rashtra’ slogans, that Hindutva men been crying hoarse, along the strain that all Hindus will be ‘safe’ once they are in control of the governing tactics, seem more than ruptured!

Today, with the arrest of Kejriwal, the Baniya trading community is particularly upset with the Right-Wing forces. In fact, why just his community…the average citizen seems to have seen through the political anarchy and treachery spreading out. Today, nobody seems safe and secure. Definitely not anyone who dares to raise his or her voice, tries to question and query, rebel and veto.

Unease and apprehensions spreading out amongst the masses. Coming up the query: Will there be any Opposition left before the general elections? Doing the rounds the obvious – at the rate the Opposition is getting targeted, with key political leaders arrested, with bank accounts sealed, will there be any genuine elections! Fair and free from fear! Or will democracy be throttled, paving way for dictatorship.

In fact, pointers to the hounding of the Opposition leaders got writ large months back, after hurdles was thrown in, in the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra. Though Rahul Gandhi was determined to carry on against all possible risks and threats, but the big question that had loomed large was this: Was the Right-Wing government rattled to see the masses participating in the Yatra so very spontaneously!... And with the arrest of Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, apprehensions had only spread out, far and wide. Now, of course, taking a very serious turn with the arrest of the prominent AAP leaders, including the sitting chief minister of the national capital.

And though the AAP members have been on the streets protesting but even that’s not going to be easy, as media persons covering those protests have been targeted. To quote from the statement released by the Press Club of India, dated 26 March 2024. To quote from it : “The Press Club of India condemns the assault on photojournalists by Delhi police. The Working News Cameraman’s Association has released photographs which showed unruly senior police officers holding some photojournalists by their throats and threatening others with dire consequences. This happened while the photojournalists were covering the public protests by the Aam Aadmi Party workers against the arrest of their leader, Arvind Kejriwal. The Delhi Chief Minister was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on March 21.

Supporters of Mr. Kejriwal have been on the streets of Delhi demanding his release for the last six days. It is the job of reporters and photojournalists to cover political protests. As such, photojournalists who were assaulted by Delhi Police were merely doing their job. From the pictures it’s clear that senior police officers grabbed the throat of Mr. Arun Thakur from the India Today group—who has been in the profession for more than two decades—in the most threatening manner. Another photojournalist, Salman Ali of Hindustan, fractured his elbow in the melee triggered by Delhi Police. Any form of assault on journalists and photojournalists is totally unacceptable. We would also like to remind the top brass of Delhi Police that Freedom of Press is a fundamental right, which the Supreme Court has underlined on a number of occasions in most emphatic terms…”

Coming To The Fore . . .

As I have earlier written, hundreds of activists and retired civil servants and lawyers have come up with serious doubts about the EVMs and the connected aftermath…Hits this basic query – will there be transparency and accountability in the entire electioneering process?

Of course, the electoral bonds issue has more than exposed all those political Who’s Who, who have all through been mouthing chosen utterances to add to their so-called mighty image! Exposed they stand, under layers of complete corruption, in those various garbs and guises.
Why isn’t the citizen reacting to all these build-ups? How can he or she! Don’t overlook the basic fact that every single day the common citizen is the target Who’s there to hear those cries of our fellow citizens in these homeless- jobless-penniless-bulldozing- horrifying times?

When a citizen of the stature of Ladakh’s Sonam Wangchuk was on hunger strike for three long weeks, which Central Minister flew down to meet him and hear his grievances! All that the well-loved and well-respected Ladakhi activist- climate activist and education reformer was asking was the much-promised statehood for Ladakh and the protection of the fragile Himalayan ecology

None of the political Who’s Who flew down from New Delhi to meet him …None of them bothered to hear him out.

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