Neither Trump nor Modi can distinguish between the good people and the ‘thugs’

Black lives in the United States and Muslim lives in India do not seem to matter much in the year 2020. Years of prejudice and racism have blurred the distinctions between the good and the ugly

Photo courtesy- social media
Photo courtesy- social media
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Faraz Ahmad

“Instead of calming anxiety, President Trump has intervened in a hugely partisan and provocative manner. When the right-wing militia brandishing guns, entered Michigan’s state legislature last month, he called them “good people.” When some in the current agitation burned property, he called them “thugs” threatening violence against all protestors. He draws no distinction between the many peaceful protesters and the few violent users of the protest”: Ashutosh Varshney, Sol Goldman Professor of International Studies and Professor of Political Science at Brown University, Providence, USA.

Varshney, a commentator on the Indian political scene as well, was talking about how the American system has been biased against the Black minority for decades but has become shamelessly and more aggressively anti-Black under Donald Trump’s blasé white racist assertions, encouraging Anglo Saxon white racists who fancy the USA as a White Onlycountry and African Americans as slaves.

Juxtapose that to the Indian situation. Delhi Police, under an equally brazen Union Home Minister and an unapologetic Delhi chief minister, is also nonchalant about targeting Muslims and those who stood with them to uphold the Constitution in peaceful protests, dharnas and agitations against the blatantly communal Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), 2019, accompanied by the Home Minister’s public threat to rid the country of “termites”.

At a time when the country was going through an unprecedent two-month curfew during the lockdown, when Delhi Police had too much on its plate, police were sent in to round up students who stood by the Muslim victims of rioting that followed months of peaceful protests against the CAA.

The Solicitor General defended BJP leader Kapil Mishra, who on camera threatened violence against women by saying that one or two speeches were not enough to trigger riots. But several students and activists have been arrested and sent to jail for precisely doing that, delivering speeches.

No action has been initiated so far, in spite of court observations, against BJP leader Kapil Mishra or any of his companions who engaged in irresponsible conduct and delivered inflammatory speeches during peaceful demonstrations against CAA. But Delhi Police, acting under instructions, have gone after students who blocked roads, gave speeches and participated in sit-ins, arrested and jailed them for conspiracy and worse.

The Police is busy rounding up Muslims of the area, including women and research scholars like Safoora Zargar or Pinjra Tod activists Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal. It is now looking at the prospect of implicating Jamia students for their December, 2019 demonstrations at one end while the Tablighi Jamaat participants in Nizamuddin, more than a month after the rioting in Delhi, in the same case.

The latest buzz is that Delhi Police has charge sheeted AAP Corporator Tahir Husain, abandoned by Arvind Kejriwal to fend for himself, from the same area who had gone out of his home. The Police claims that while IB officer Ankit Sharma was trying to pacify both sides (Hindus and Muslims), Muslims instigated and led by Tahir Husain stabbed and killed Sharma and threw his body in the drain. The Police also told the court that it had no video evidence of the incident but witness statements to support its contention.

Husain’s lawyer Javed Ali has been insisting all along that Husain was actually the victim of communal violence and that he had called the police control room several times and that the Control Room has record of at least 12 calls from Husain’s mobile number. According to Husain, the Police arrived and escorted him to a safe place. And yet Husain has been made the main accused in the killing of the IB officer.

Recall the burning of the S-6 coach in Sabarmati Express at Singla Falia, a few meters ahead of Godhra Railway station on February 27, 2002. For more than a decade as many as 68 people, all Muslims, were rounded up and accused of throwing inflammable material from outside through the widows and thus killing 59 Kar Sevaks returning from Ayodhya.

The highly charged communal campaign after this incident resulted in the killing of not just 2000 Muslims but also rape and murder of Muslim women and plunder of houses and shops belonging to Muslims. It overnight made Narendra Modi the Hindu Hriday Samrat.

The trial went on for years and for lack of any substantive evidence most of the accused were set free and the rest who were initially awarded death sentence, their sentence too was commuted to life imprisonment by Gujarat High Court. Eighteen years later, the matter is still pending in the Supreme Court.

A large number of Muslim young men accused by successive BJP regimes right from the time L K Advani became Home Minister and Modi the Gujarat chief minister, have languished in jails for 5, 10, 12 years before being discharged for lack of any substantive evidence.

Those who protested against the CAA seem destined to meet the same fate.

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