Resolve and Resistance

In an unexpected twist for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) are raging ahead full steam across the country. After the agitation started in Assam it spread like wild fire to Delhi, Lucknow, Kolkata, Pune, Karnataka and in many parts of Maharashtra. To the dismay of BJP stalwarts, of all places, Nagpur, the headquarters of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) witnessed a huge rally of more than one lakh people on December 20,2019, taking to the streets, shouting anti-Modi slogans.

Ever since the President gave his consent to the new citizenship law, the resistance movement against the CAA has grown horizontally throughout the country and charge is being led by university students. But they have been punished for their bravery and resolve by Modi's proto-fascist regime. On December 19, 2019, protest rallies were held all around the nation, from north to south and east to west. Whether they admit it or not, citizens of the country have unanimously rejected Modi's idea of highly unconstitutional Act that seeks to divide people on the basis of their religion.

Meanwhile, at least 15 people were killed in Yogi Adityanath's Uttar Pradesh (UP) where simmering discontent has been developing for quite some time over construction of Ram Temple on the disputed land. And in the very heart of UP journalists were detained and tortured for reporting the on-going anti-CAA stir. Students and youths led the stir and people followed them.

Police high-handedness in colleges and universities is not a new phenomenon in India. Nor is it so anywhere else in the world. They are the soft and easy target. What the persons in uniform did in Jamia Millia Islamic University and JNU beggars description. They—police—entered the hostel in the dark and boarders were mercilessly beaten while girls were manhandled and molested. In Assam Guahati Cotton University students had to face nightmare of severe police atrocities and yet, they said 'NO' to NRC.

No doubt provocation begets provocation. What tempted Karnataka's BJP tourism minister to issue warning to anti-CAA protesters saying,'{They} must recall what happened in Godhra', speaks volumes about the shape of things to come.

For good reasons or bad, Modi's National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies, particularly Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) and Ram Vilas Paswan's Lokjanashakti Dal, are mounting pressure on the saffron dispensation to review NRC in its totality and slow down the process so that the nation heaves a sigh of relief. After the mass-upheaval—yes, it can be so called by any standard, even by Indian standard—the Modi-Shah combine seems to be climbing down as their minority community spokesperson Mukhtar Naqvi said the other day in no uncertain terms that NRC was only for Assam and it had no pan-Indian dimension.

Already six states have declined to implement NRC. More may follow the suit. But Modi looks a bit adamant and authoritarian while doubly assuring the muslims that they won't have to face deportation and defending the indefensible—CAA and NPR. He hopes to implement NRC by April but for the time being it maybe put on hold. It remains to be seen whether NDA partners' push back can thwart Modi's game plan which they dub as game changer as it has happened in Kashmir in case of abrogation of Article 370 and 35A. For all practical purposes the vexed question of Kashmir is out of focus now—no longer hard news on Kashmir in any sort of media is getting currency.

For one thing NRC was originally conceived by the Congress Party, not BJP. Even at this juncture of nation-wide turmoil, the Sonia Gandhi -led party's criticism of NRC or for that matter CAA, seems too weak to be taken seriously. As for the Left the less said the better. They are at worst apologists of Congress, tailing behind, only to expose their utter political and ideological bankruptcy. But the Congress Party finds it difficult to gain back what it has lost—trust of people.

Modi's assertion that NRC is only for refugees who have migrated to India because of state persecution in neighbouring countries have no takers. What is more people know little about NPR which is more dubious and mischievous than apparently 'innocuous' NRC.

Despite a bold face in the face of nation-wide protest movement which surprised them the Modis are definitely on the back-foot at the moment, particularly after the poll debacle in Jharkhand. In Jharkhand, the Congress-Jharkahand Mukti Mancha alliance is all set to unseat BJP from power. Maybe, NRC didn't play any significant role in decimation of BJP in that tribal-dominant state. Forcible land acquisition for big business and massive unemployment among adivasis and lack of meaningful pro-people developmental activities created an anti-BJP swing despite Modi's war cry against the opponents. BJP's vote percentage in Jharkhand has been plummeted from 37 percent to 33 percent—a 4-percentage decline made all the difference. With Jharkhand loss BJP footprint shrinks to half from 2017. It is quite likely that Bihar may go the Jharkhand way.

But BJP can go to any length to silence its critics and terrorise people who stand in the way. There is 'Godhra' to their credit. So is Gujarat of 2002 when Modi was the chief minister of that hapless state. What Dr Gregory Stantan, founder of 'Genocide Watch' thinks about Narendra Modi's India at the moment is simply bone-chilling. As per Stantan's analysis there are ten symptoms that may produce conditions for a genocide like situation. 'Genocide Watch' describes how Assam and Kashmir have already entered the 8th stage of persecution. As things are both Assam and Kashmir foot the bill for continuing state persecution. The ninth stage deals with extermination—Jews in gas chambers. And in India it can be done easily by organising large scale religious and parochial riots as they quite often happen in north and east. As for the 10th stage, as per Stantan's observation it is denial—plain and simple. And BJP has a chequred history of denying its past misdeeds. They need absolute power to finish their unfinished agenda of building a hindu rashtra on the ruins of plurality that has been dominating India's body politic so long. They won't hesitate to recreate a Nazi Germany in today's India in the 21st century. Maybe, a limited 'genocide' is in the offing, if Stantan proves correct. Maybe not!

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Vol. 52, No. 27, Jan 5 - 11, 2020