Vinod Mubayi


The unprecedented countrywide protests against the CAA and NRC are the opening salvos in what is bound to be a long struggle against BJP’s fascist governance over the last 5 years. It is encouraging that many of the protests are being led by students and youth, which augurs well for the vitality of the opposition to the Sangh Parivar’s agenda in the next few years.


Fascist governance from the time of Mussolini and Hitler in Europe has relied on spectacle to divert and stupefy the public by stirring up anger against fake or imagined enemies and drawing attention away from real-life issues that impact the well-being of the public. Modi government’s actions exemplify this.


First there was demonetization, a tamasha par excellence, where a fake enemy, black money in the hands of opposition political parties, was created, and overnight a surgical strike was launched against high denomination notes. This caper wrecked the economy in subsequent years and caused great hardship to the poor whose economic life was tied to cash transactions but it diverted the attention of enough people to enable BJP to win the UP election by a large margin.


Second there was Pulwama and air strikes on alleged terrorist camps in Pakistan, where Modi and Shah changed the entire narrative of the national election campaign from the dismal economic performance of the BJP government to hyper-nationalist rhetoric about Pakistan. Although Pakistan government and most credible international investigation showed that the air strikes on Balakot were a dud, nevertheless Modi-Shah drumbeating appears to have stupefied enough people to give BJP a comfortable majority in the Lok Sabha.


After its election victory in May, the Modi-Shah duo decided to create another spectacle – the destruction of the statehood of Jammu & Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state and one that had historically enjoyed a measure of autonomy guaranteed by the Indian constitution. No matter. Seventy plus years of history was undone within a few hours on August 5 without the slightest pretense of any consultation with J&K democratic opinion or its political leaders by the BJP’s pliant rubber-stamp majority in Parliament. Majoritarianism ran rampant as even some opposition parties jumped on the bandwagon wanting to prove their “Hindu” credentials by teaching Kashmiri Muslims a lesson. However, by arresting all of Kashmir’s political leaders, even ones known to favor India, and converting most of Kashmir valley into a vast open-air jail, without any credible rationale for its actions, the BJP regime began to experience the beginnings of dissent and criticism, both internationally as well as nationally.


But endless spectacles begin to experience the law of diminishing returns and the blatantly discriminatory CAA and the outright fascist NRC, again passed by the rubber-stamp Parliament, seem to have met with increasing opposition from wide segments of the Indian public. From Punjab to Assam and from Delhi to Mumbai and Kerala, massive public processions demanding repeal of this legislation are taking place. The police in Delhi under control of Shah and in Yogi’s UP have responded with characteristic brutality. The assault on the students of Delhi’s Jamia Millia and Aligarh’s Muslim University have drawn widespread condemnation as have the killings of over 20 protestors by UP cops. The Modi-bhakts have responded with characteristic provocations. One BJP leader took out a procession in Delhi, despite the imposition of Section 144 prohibiting the gathering of 5 or more persons, shouting the slogan “goli maro salon ko” (shoot the bastards) without any reaction from the police. This blatant favoritism shown to the ruling dispensation is not fooling anybody.


Modi’s speech at the BJP rally in Delhi was replete with lies; he claimed that since his government took power in 2014 there has been “no discussion of NRC anywhere” when the BJP’s election manifesto in 2019 promised to bring NRC all across the country, and there is a mountain of documented tweets and speeches by his own front man Amit Shah about using NRC to remove the “termites” (i.e. Muslims) from India.  Modi also asserted that there were no detention centers anywhere when his own government’s Minister of State for Home Affairs had said in parliament just a few weeks ago that instructions had been issued to all states to construct detention centers to detain illegal immigrants. Modi’s lies were habitual but the more interesting ones were where he appeared to disavow NRC and retreat from the notion of opening detention centers.


Perhaps the heat of the opposition to this bill is now singeing Modi himself as it is certainly doing to the BJP in Assam and the north-east in general. The protests and opposition have been mostly spontaneous. If they can continue to retain their focus and remain strong and resilient, they could yet have a significant impact on India’s hitherto dismal political trajectory.







In this special New Year issue of Insaf Bulletin, we wish all our readers a safe, productive and progressive 2020.


While doing this, we are acutely aware of the unprecedented, non-violent yet militant struggles breaking out all over the country against the arbitrary and undemocratic actions of the Central Government of Prime Minister Modi, in particular the legislative passage of the blatantly unconstitutional Citizens Amendment Act (CAA) and the related moves to implement the anti-minority National Register of Citizens (NRC) and link it to the National Population Register (NPR) to harass minorities and create a permanent surveillance state with a Damocles sword hanging over the head of anyone in the country who dares to criticize the government.


We are also aware that while consolidating Hindutva and implementing the Sangh Parivar’s anti-Muslim agenda has been a constant feature of the (Bhartiya Janata Party) BJP government ever since it assumed power in 2014, the protests against its latest acts have been led mainly by a broad coalition of students and youth, with Muslim students only in the forefront in historically Muslim majority institutions like Aligarh Muslim University, and a broad front of non-Muslim and Muslim youth in other colleges and universities all over the country.


We know that until recently the violence perpetrated against minorities, mainly Muslims and Dalits, by Hindutva thugs like the lynch mobs, especially in states ruled by BJP, was ignored by police who behaved as passive onlookers, if not colluders, while individual Muslim men were brutalized, beaten and made to chant “Jail Shri Ram” before being killed.


However, the scale of the protests against CAA/NRC/NPR is such that violent repression of the protests by Hindutva groups alone is no longer feasible. It is the police in BJP ruled states and in the national capital who have clearly been ordered by their political masters to behave like thugs, beating and shooting protestors and breaking into the homes and shops of minorities, even those totally uninvolved, to teach them a lesson. The worst affected state is UP where the police have begun to imitate and recreate the actions of Nazi gangs and SS stormtroopers in late 1930s Germany that took place then against the minorities, mainly Jews but also communists, socialists, and others.


As an article in the Sabrang Bulletin of Dec. 29, 2019 put it:


“While protests across the country have seen students being fired at, peaceful protestors being detained and also suspension of internet, Uttar Pradesh has become a state that has seen the worst until now. With a BJP government in majority, and a Chief Minister like Yogi Adityanath who conforms to the Centre’s plan of action, Uttar Pradesh has become the worst example of excessive police action by a force which has been clearly given a free hand by the state with one agenda, to create and establish a climate of fear among people. This is being done to subdue the masses and to dissuade them from agitating against the government.”


A senior police officer in Meerut was openly captured on video threatening residents they would be packed off to Pakistan or worse if they dared to protest and raise their voice against the government. Other videos portray cops and plainclothesmen openly breaking into houses and looting cash and vandalizing property, or destroying minority-owned shops and stores. Not content with these depredations, police have had the effrontery in this state to levy heavy fines on protestors for destroying public property. In Lucknow, a very well-known advocate Mohd Shoaib was detained and, reportedly, his whereabouts are unknown. When his wife and colleagues went to the police station to inquire about him, they were detained too for a long period. Actress and activist Sadaf Jafar has been in jail since December 19, is reportedly ill but denied treatment. This is Nazi-style “goonda raj” with a vengeance but the cops obviously think they can get away with it since they either have political coverage at the highest level or are acting on the orders of their masters. Another state where police goondaism has been permitted is BJP ruled Karnataka. In Mangaluru, two Muslims were shot dead by the police who also barged into private homes and commercial establishments carrying out destruction of private property and beating people.

Meanwhile, Modi and his cohorts have begun lying about NRC and NPR claiming there was no plan to implement NRC when in fact there is a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Clearly, the mounting agitation against their policies is making the Modi-Shah duo edgy.


On the other hand, the BJP has begun to lose its control over state governments. Its latest loss was in the Jharkhand elections where it was ousted by a coalition of the Congress and a local party. Most non-BJP ruled states, like Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, etc. have strongly opposed CAA and vowed not to implement NRC or the BJP version of NPR. The Kerala Assembly passed a bill demanding repeal of the CAA with just one vote of a BJP member against.


Hopefully, the struggles will continue in 2020 to preserve India as a secular, democracy.

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