In the absence of clear goals, leadership, organisational structure, and vision for negotiation protests demonising a legitimately elected government will not bear good fruits
   19-Mar-2020
 
 
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 Many symbols are liberally used, including that of Gandhiji,
at the Shaheen Bagh protest without understanding the meaning of it
 

In the absence of clear goals, leadership, organisational structure, and vision for negotiation protests demonising a legitimately elected government will not bear good fruits
 

 Sopan Shinde
 

 
Resistance to political power is quite normal; from its reflection in Sophocles’ Antigone to Gandhi’s stints in South Africa and Bharat, and Martin Luther King Jr’s protests to fight racial injustice, there is history that provides lineage to contemporary protests. Hence, the Shaheen Bagh anti-government, so-called peaceful, non-violent protest is winning hearts. But its ancestry could be burdensome and naturally warrants analysis in terms of clarity of goals, leadership, organisational structure, and agenda for negotiation.
 
 
Rolling back of the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA), not to implement National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), and upholding the ideals embedded in the Constitution of Bharat, are the key declared goals of self-proclaimed non-violent mob sit-in at Shaheen Bagh. While the values embedded in the Constitution of Bharat can be debated for ages, CAA, NRC, and NPR involve legal nitty-gritty far from the grasp of laywomen protestors. Therefore, if the protestors do really have any faith in the Constitution of Bharat, they must wait for the Supreme Court of Bharat to decide the constitutionality of CAA. And if the goal is to secure Bharateeya Muslims from losing their citizenship after its alleged connection with NRC, it is clearly not the time to protest.
 
 
A protest needs leadership for many reasons: to own responsibility for unfortunate untoward incidents that might occur at the demonstration site hosting women, children, and infants; to perform interlocutory functions in negotiation, and to take the onus of disturbing the everyday life of others. The Shaheen Bagh is arguably a public’s protest without an individual face or a committee, and even the interlocutors appointed by the Supreme Court of Bharat had to engage in one on one talks. Who is the Government to talk to in such a scenario? The Government did in fact demand a ‘structured form’ of communication when the law minister articulated the readiness for talks in the first week of February.
 
 
 
 
 

Muslim couple with ISIS links arrested for instigating
anti-CAA riots

 
In a big revelation on the global anti-India forces involved in Delhi riots, the Delhi police have arrested a Muslim couple who were actively engaged in instigating protests against CAA and were also linked to the ISIS. The couple, Jahanjeb Sami and Hina Bashir Beg, is connected to the Khorasan Module of ISIS say the police.
 
Addressing the media, DCP Pramod Singh Kushwaha confirmed the arrest. He said that the couple, Jahanjeb Sami and Hina Bashir Beg apprehended from Jamia Nagar, Okhla was instigating anti-CAA protests and were linked to the Khorasan Module of ISIS. He said that they were residents of Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir and they had moved to Delhi in August last year.
 
 
The couple were reportedly mobilising people on social media too. They were running a social media page with the name ‘Indian Muslims United,’ the purpose of which was to gather protesters CAA. The couple, Jahanjeb Sami and Hina Bashir Beg were produced in a local Delhi Court which sent them to police custody till March 17. As per the reports, three dead bodies were also recovered from the vicinity of the protesting sight.
 
 

Khorasan Module Links with India

 
 
The Khorasan is derived from an ancient prophecy that black flags would once again fly in the Khorasan region before the world ends. The Khorasan region in Islam consists of the medieval parts of Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Iran streching up to Jamu and Kashmir. The ISIS Khorasan module formed in 2012, comprises of senior Al-Qaeda members operating in Syria. The ISIS Khorasan module is a Salafist group, and its ideology is particularly based upon Wahhabism.
 
 
The current leader of ISIS Khorasani group is Mohammed Islambouli, and deputy in command are Sanafi al-Nasr, Mushsin al-Fadhli, Abu Khayr al-Masri. The headquarter of ISIS Khorasan module is based upon Bawabiyah, Aleppo and their area of operation is mostly Northwestern Syria. Apart from the couple arrested from Delhi, the Khorasan module has attracted many Muslims from India to join its ranks. In 2017, it was revealed that most of the 21 missing youths from Kerala who had joined the ISIS had joined the Khorasan module. On March 8, 2017, the Lucknow police killed one ISIS terrorist Saifullah after a fierce gun battle with terrorists that lasted 12 hours. All were said to be part of the Khorasan module of ISIS and were trained by the same.
 
 
The Shaheen Bagh protest has no organisational structure, leaving it to Almighty God the indispensable tasks of identifying the grievers, documenting their grievances, and giving legitimate voice to injustice. In Champaran Satyagraha, for example, several lawyer volunteers registered grievances of thousands of farmers in an organised manner leading to the Champaran Agrarian Bill, 1917. The protestors at Shaheen Bagh need to be enlightened that a protest without such preparation is irresponsible as it demeans genuine protests by opening space for local and international politics. Actually, there are neither grievers nor any grievances, because the protest is primarily about the ‘would-be’ injustice.
 
 
The ultimate destination of anti-government protests is the negotiation table. The negotiation agenda is so vital that even if the Government is antagonistic and would not move an inch, it exposes the ruthlessness of such a Government. Take Gandhi’s civil disobedience or Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement; documented negotiation agendas made the talks concrete and meaningful. The organisational structure expresses a genuine desire for negotiation. If Shaheen Bagh lacks such documented preparation for negotiations, that it wants no negotiation is abundantly clear- there are some cats in the bag.
 
 
In the absence of clear goals, leadership, organisational structure, and vision for negotiation protests demonising a legitimately elected government will not bear good fruits. We got to remember, on Gandhi’s return from South Africa, Jan. Smuts said, “A saint returned to Bharat, hopefully forever.” That’s the fruit of love and compassion shown to those in power for change of heart and the Shaheen Bagh protestors talking the language of love should walk this talk. A silent, non-violent mob in public place, sloganeering, media attention and social media outreach have grabbed international media coverage and invited the UNHRC’ intervention application in the Supreme Court of Bharat over CAA. The Government of Bharat responded, stating that the International body has no locus standi on issues pertaining to New Delhi’s sovereignty. But the fact that Bharat fell back on sovereignty argument for human rights that some enlightened Bharatns assume ‘will be’ violated is a shame on self-proclaimed saviours of the Constitution of Bharat. Increasing public participation in a deliberative democracy like Bharat is a great sign. Still, the protesting public playing the role of the opposition party, which the latter is utterly failing in, is the worrying picture of our multi-party politics.
 
(The writer is Assistant Professor, National Law University, Nagpur. Views expressed are personal)