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Mainstream, VOL LVIII No 10 New Delhi, February 22, 2020

Perspective from Shaheen Bagh

Friday 28 February 2020, by SC


As we go to press today, the situation at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh remains extremely fluid. The country’s Apex Court had sent interlocutors to Shaheen Bagh to discuss with the protesters there and get their consent to allow traffic movement to distant places that had been blocked for 69 days, that is, since the Shaheen Bagh protest against the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) had begun. In fact this morning itself one of the roads supposed to have been blocked by the protesters had been opened for a brief period of 45 minutes with some of the protesters arguing that if this was possible why was the road not being permanently opened.

The situation is still hazy and one has not come across any words of wisdom from the leaders including the Union Home Minister (the architect of the CAA and NRC experiment, as per his public pronouncements to that effect) as to whether he sticks to his original statement in Parliament’s both Houses or if he wants to modify it. Political analysts are convinced that the ruling party’s stand has suffered a jolt following the Delhi Assembly election result that have seen the BJP routed by the incumbent AAP Government of Arvind Kejriwal, and that is why it is waiting for the appropriate time to attack the protesters as the BJP leaders had declared sometime ago. In fact, in reply to a specific question in that regard at the recently held Hindustan Times Leadership Summit, Amit Shah had repeated what he had said earlier—that there was no question of retreating from the government’s original position of carrying out the CAA come what may.

Close observers of the national scene under the NDA-II Government are of the considered view that the Modi-Shah duo is determined to implement the CAA and there has been no change in its position on this issue. That, we all know, would be playing with fire. The Shaheen Bagh protesters are currently fighting with their backs to the wall as far as this issue is concerned. In this backdrop, the Opposition parties must unite to effectively combat and defeat the ruliong party’s nefarious designs. As was highlighted in these columns last week,

....the coming days will be trying times for those who are committed to defending democracy and secularism, who want communal amity and social unity, who want to keep India as a free and open society as it has always been. The need of the hour is the unity of the people, rather than the unity only of Opposition parties, to face the challenges ahead. It is only the rock-solid unity of the people and the coalescing of all anti-fascist forces into a single solid phalanx of resistance that can prevent a fascist takeover of the country.

This perspective should never being lost sight of. It is only people’s unity, as witnessed so brilliantly at Shaheen Bagh, that can give a fitting rebuff to the authorities in power at the Centre.

February 21 S.C.

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