Here’s Why India’s Shaheen Bagh Protest Is No Revolution
Justice Markandey Katju argues that the anti-CAA protest at Shaheen Bagh seems a predominantly Muslim show, and this is what enabled the BJP to create a narrative that Delhi election has become a battle between India and Pakistan.
I am sorry to pour cold water on all this brouhaha and hoopla about the ongoing Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA protests in Delhi, which some people portray as a kind of revolution, when in fact it is nothing of the sort. But in reality is, in Shakespeare’s words, “A tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. – Vide Macbeth
I am reminded of Anna Hazare’s anti corruption agitation, and the Nirbhaya anti rape stir, which at one time appeared great movements destined to bring great social and political changes in India, but subsequently fizzled out.
What is the anti CAA protest about? It does not give the same rights to Muslim immigrants into India as it does to non Muslim immigrants. But then the real grievance will be of Muslims, who are only 15-16 % of the Indian population, and not of all Indians.
I have pointed out in my article ‘Dark days are ahead for India’ published in dailypioneer.com, dailytimes.com.pk, and indicanews.com, in India most Hindus, and most Muslims, are communal. This is because secularism is a feature of industrial society, it is not a feature of feudal or semi feudal society.
India is still semi feudal, as is evident from the rampant casteism and communalism prevalent here. No doubt the Preamble to the Indian Constitution mentions that India is a secular country, but that is only on paper, the ground reality is very different.
When a Muslim is lynched, most Hindus are indifferent, and some even happy. One terrorist and anti national less! There was already widespread communalism before the BJP came to power in 2014, but it was largely latent, and only erupted occasionally. After 2014 it has become open, virulent and continuous. Indian society has now become largely polarised on religious lines.
Since most Hindus, who are 80% of India’s population, are communal, they would be supporters of the CAA since it is anti Muslim. The Hindus who gather at Shaheen Bagh represent only about 10-15% of the Hindu population. 85-90% Hindus would be supporters of CAA (since it gives citizenship to only the persecuted Hindus and other minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, but denies it to Muslims).
The crowd at Shaheen Bagh appears to have a disproportionately large number of hijab clad Muslim women, and this was commented upon by Modi. So Shaheen Bagh seems a predominantly Muslim show, and this is what enabled the BJP leader Kapil Mishra to comment that the Delhi election has become a battle between India and Pakistan, and that Pakistan had entered Shaheen Bagh.
In my opinion, the anti-CAA protesters at Shaheen Bagh have unwittingly benefited the BJP, which will win a clear majority in the Delhi Assembly elections scheduled for 8th February.
Markandey Katju is a former judge of the Supreme Court of India. He was also the Chairman of the Press Council of India.