Two consecutive winters in India have been warmed by protests. December 2019 saw widespread agitation across the country, in retaliation of the repressive Citizenship Amendment Act brought by the current government.
The Act amended citizenship laws to extend it to illegal migrants who were Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan prior to 2014, following religious persecution. The act failed to mention Muslims and other communities who fled for the same reason. This religious discrimination brought the Act under considerable criticism, owing to the secular make of the country and the constitutional claim of the same.
The protests started in Assam soon after the bill was passed in parliament and the agitation travelled from there to the rest of the country.
In the coldest winter that it had experienced in many years, the national capital of New Delhi, saw protests being initiated by students of Central Universities like Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University. The government’s way of dealing with these protests sparked even further outrage. The police force was deployed which entered campuses of these universities, beating students black and blue and using tear gas on them. This act of violence enraged the student community and had many across the nation rise to the cause and in solidarity.
It was during this time that many prominent leaders of the BJP came out to express how students had been misled and that these were purely anti-social and anti-national elements that were trying to bring down the country’s unity. Often known as the tukde-tukde gang, JNU students were blamed to have misled the entire nation’s students to believe against the supposed welfare policy of the BJP.
On another foggy morning of last December, women gathered in large numbers to hold a protest in Shaheen Bagh in Delhi. These women were particularly housewives, mothers and grandmothers, sitting in a peaceful protest against the Act. These women started to sit in protest through day and night and soon enough caught local and global media’s attention.
Despite Delhi witnessing it’s second coldest day in over 100 years, at the end of December, these women with their children sat through an indefinite protest, reciting verses of Inqilaab and making sure each of them was warm and well-fed. They opened arms to anyone who came in support and made sure they didn’t leave hungry.
India had not seen a protest like this, ever before. So warm and led by the strength of women.
They demanded the repeal of the Act or at least amendments made to it. To retract its religious discrimination. But, yet again, the protests were demeaned and called out as means of Muslims being misled and that they must have nothing to fear of their citizenships if they could produce papers of citizenship from 70 years back during Partition when they chose to come into the county.
Well, it was funny for the common man to keep hearing that anyone who was against the laws by the government was firstly misled, and secondly an anti-national.
Cut to December 2020, that has barely stepped in and millions of farmers are marching unto Delhi to demand that the Indian government repeal three new farm laws that would entail mass jeopardization of farmers’ livelihood. These laws would leave the farmers even more vulnerable to big hungry corporates, who would exploit the farmers into selling their produces for far too cheap.
Farmers from across the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh travelled to Delhi, with “Dilli Chalo” slogans resonating as they move.
At the Haryana-Delhi border, these farmers were met with police force deployed by the central government and are subjected to tear gas and water cannons in chilling cold, for demanding a protest and the government of a democratic nation to listen to them. And, as if that was not enough, they were lathicharged at. Old men, trying to hold a peaceful protest and talk to the government and rework on a law.
Of course, the BJP and its leaders claimed that these farmers had been misled by the opposition and by those in favour of the creation of Khalistan. That these laws are in the favour of the farmers and for their betterment.
Now, this must raise a question in your head, as to what law is this that none of the farmers of the country can see their benefit and happen to be misled about but almost everyone in the BJP can see the welfare scheme?
And while all of this misleading is happening, certain BJP-led states, bring on an ordinance against “Love-Jihad”. Because of course, while everyone is being misled, how could the naive Hindu girl be left far behind for the ever endangered patriarchal minds?
Despite there already being a Special Marriages Act presiding over inter-faith marriages, one must obviously place jurisdiction and question the intellect and choosing the capacity of a consenting adult woman, if, ‘god forbid, she chooses to marry a Muslim boy.
Now, you must have thought that during a pandemic of this nature, the government of one of the most populous countries in the world would be forced to pay utmost attention to healthcare and taking control of the situation, but I guarantee you, everything but that has happened.
People have consistently been misled with manipulated numbers of cases and deaths via the Covid-19. Election campaigns have tried to mislead the general public with false promises of vaccines and misleading narratives regarding anyone who speaks against the government have made their way into the world.
So my curiosity is piqued now, as I try to determine who really is misled and who’s misleading, for the largest democracy has bits of almost all sections of society ‘misled’ against a single political party. And each attempt to fact-check leads me to find this particular party instigating the misleading of people, via agendas, pogrom hate and wrongful data.
I rest my case with a few questions for you to ponder over.
Are we really misled when we question authority or are we being misled in the name of being a true nationalist by being submissive citizens?
Why and when does someone in power want to mislead, manipulate and instigate people against people? Until we find those answers, let us be misled and ask our questions. To the government. For a better nation.