Young protestors

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Days after an armed man fired at a protest march in Jamia area in south Delhi, another man on Saturday fired bullets in Shaheen Bagh area where locals have been camping for over a month against the Citizenship Amendment Act. When asked why he had fired bullets at Shaheen Bagh protest site, the attacker said, “I want Hindu Rashtra in this country.” While he was in the grip of police, he was heard chanting ‘Jai Shriram’ slogans and while being taken away by the police, he shouted: “Hamare desh mein kisi ki nahi chalegi, sirf Hinduon ki chalegi.” Earlier as the country was observing the martyrdom of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination on Thursday, a youth appeared on the road outside Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia, shouted ‘Yeh lo azadi’ and opened fire on barricaded students. The armed youth then turned around and walked to Delhi police personnel, who stood as mute spectators. It is only now given to understand that his name is being withheld, but he was being bundled into a police vehicle, he identified himself as ‘Rambhakt’ and shouted ‘Delhi Police Zindabad’. It later came out that he was a member of the right organization Bajrang Dal from a village on the outskirts of Delhi and had posted hate messages on his Facebook page before coming to the road outside Jamia Millia Islamia, where students were barricaded by the police and not allowed to take out a procession to protest against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register for Citizens (NRC). A student received a bullet injury in his arm due to shot fired by the armed youth. From the hate messages being sent out by the ruling dispensation, it is clear that no one should be shocked or ashamed if such acts are happening. In fact, such incidents are likely to happen in near future with hate being spread with official sanction from the highest echelons of power. This incident is also in continuation of actions and reactions from the right wing brigade since the eruption of anti-CAA protests in Delhi and elsewhere in the country. The very same area witnessed Delhi police personnel charging at unarmed students and later, targeting them in their library and hostels about one a half months back. Two weeks later, a group of armed goons and thugs rampaged through JNU, attacking students in girls’ hostels and elsewhere, as Delhi police personnel watched, almost indulgently. Most of the attackers have been identified as members of ABVP, the students’ wing of the RSS, but not one person has been arrested so far. The lone FIR filed has named JNUSU president Aishe Ghosh, who suffered head injuries in the violent assault. In marked contrast, the Delhi police was quick off the wicket this week to track down and arrest Sharjeel Imam for his alleged seditious speech. ‘Rambhakt’ only echoed a perception when he shouted, ‘Delhi Police Zindabad’. But at this stage, blaming only the Delhi police is to not look at the bigger picture that is emerging all across the country. The violence in Jamia and JNU was preceded by extended vilification campaigns where Hindutva right-wing groups and senior BJP leaders, including those who hold high public office, have aggressively pitched in, effectively egging on their lumpen supporters to target students and young protestors. University and college campuses, the country should be proud of have been framed as a den for ‘urban Naxals’ and ‘jihadis’. The EC on Thursday banned Union Minister Anurag Thakur and BJP MP Parvesh Singh Verma from campaigning in Delhi for their hate speeches but, clearly, that’s not much of a deterrent. Unfortunately, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while promising stern action against the gunman, said at a rally barely hours later that the election is about choosing between a Prime Minister, who took firm action against Pakistan and those who stand with protestors in Shaheen Bagh. Amit Shah is a past veteran of seeing the Pakistan hand in Indian elections but today it is his Ministry that calls the shots in the Delhi police. That’s why maybe the only excuse Commissioner of Police Amulya Patnaik has, as he got an extension on Thursday, for the shameful conduct of his force is: What can he or they do when their masters urge frenzied crowds to say ‘maaro goli saalon ko’ and hope for a ‘current’ to cut through protest venue of Shaheen Bagh.