From dubious funding, to delinquent organisers to Islamist nomenclature, the Shaheen-Bagh reeked of a Pakistani experiment aimed at showcasing the supremacist attitude of Islamists.
- Vijay Kranti
The Shaheen-Bagh dharna is finally over after keeping the nation on tenterhooks for over three months. The sit in was neither withdrawn by the organizers nor pushed out by the government. It was only the scare created by the Chinese virus Covid-19 which should take the credit for this ending. Without going into which side won in this game and which one lost, one thing which has emerged as a pleasant fact is that Indian democracy has enough space for democratic protests irrespective of whether it is for right or wrong reasons. And also that the government too has enough stock of patience if it decides to bank upon it.
Interestingly no leader or organization is there on the scene to claim the credit for such a unique and long drawn sit in which attracted national and international headlines. Nor there is anyone to announce the future course of this movement.
The roads which remained blocked and thus played havoc with daily life of over two million commuters, school children and emergency patients in the area are open once again. But so are many questions which still remain open and, if not answered and attended to in time, have the potential of pushing the nation into a far more serious chaos, may be a civil war. An unexplained quiet on the Shaheen Bagh front indicates that the demonstrators may return with better planning, better logistics, better support system and a much higher fanatic determination whenever the Corona scare goes.
When Shaheen-Bagh dharna started, it was seen by many as a new political phenomenon. A large number of non Muslim supporters also thronged the shamiyanas. While many of them were groups and individuals who are always over enthused to join any anti-Modi, anti-BJP event, there was a substantial number of honest supporters of secularism and democracy in whose perception the CAA was something which deserved to be opposed. For them ordinary Muslim house wives, holding their little children and opposing CAA was a perfect cause that genuinely deserved their support. Interestingly, this support continued until the day the tukde-tukde gang took over the stage and made a call for breaking away North-Eastern India by an 'Islamic' action at the Chicken-Neck corridor in West Bengal. No wonder a large group of non-Muslim supported pulled back and the Shaheen-Bagh dharna was turned into a Muslim protest.
But despite this setback there is no shortage of political analysts and self serving social scientists who want the world to believe that this dharna was a unique upsurge of ordinary Muslim house wives and little kids to fight against Modi government's 'communal' Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). They are gaga about the illiterate Muslim women for staying put for over three months without any outside support and despite chilling winter. Some of these experts have even tried to eulogize and paint it as a non violent movement bigger than Mahatma Gandhi's Namak-Satyagrah or Non Cooperation Movement.
Unfortunately none of these self styled analysts and admirers have answers to some very basic questions like what was the source of finance for sustaining such a 24x7 dharna which ran simultaneously at over a dozen places across India for three months? Who were the individuals and organizations which coordinated such a mammoth exercise with clock precision that involved arranging proper shamianas, warm beds, tea and food for the participants and their supporters and an efficient media campaign? What was the purpose behind placing ordinary house wives and little kids on the front of a movement on a subject like CAA which neither affected them or their families in any conceivable manner nor did they have necessary intellectual background or education to understand or deliberate on the intricacies of the subject?
It also needs to be explained that why on one hand the national tricolour was used liberally at the demonstration site to attract TV and other media cameras but the same platform was used to host and cheer Islamist leaders like Sharjil Imam to call upon the Indian Muslims to occupy the 'Chicken Neck' corridor in West Begal in order to dismember India.
It is interesting to note that elaborate arrangements were made to look after the demonstrators and supporters at the dharna site which included shamiyanas, a stage, beds, tea and biryani for the demonstrators and anyone who asked for it. On the last day when the tents and other paraphernalia which was removed from the site included a huge fiber glass replica of India gate and brand new wooden beds of identical shape and size indicating that they were made to order from a single fund and must have cost a fortune that none of the poor house wives could have afforded. In order to show that the entire show was a spontaneous act of public enthusiasm and support, a Sardarji was presented to the media who claimed to have sold his house to feed biryani to the demonstrators.
The Shaheen-Bagh experiment to undermine the Indian state and constitution had all the features of a foreign funded drama to destabilize the country.
TERROR FUNDING ?
Interestingly, the Enforcement Directorate(ED) and security agencies tumbled upon some bank accounts related to some Shaheen Bagh activists, which had received about Rs 160 crore from some unidentified or fictitious resources. According to details coming out in public domain most of this money was quickly siphoned to some accounts many of which belonged to organisations registered at some local addresses in the Shaheen Bagh colony.
The ED and police identified this money as 'terror funds' and associated it with Popular Front of India (PFI). Two top leaders of PFI Parvez Ahmed and Mohammed Illiyas were arrested for receiving these funds and funding the Shaheen Bagh protests in Delhi and several other places across India. But it is no less interesting that until the last day of the Dharna no organization or individual leaders came out to claim the ownership of the event or the demonstrations. May be because all efforts of people involved were throughout focused on presenting the entire Shaheen Bagh movement as a spontaneous and voluntary reaction of ordinary Muslims, especially house wives against the CAA.
ACTIVISM OR FANATICISM ?
Participation of ordinary Muslim house wives along with their children in the age group 1-10 years too was unfathomable for those who are familiar with political and feminist activism in Delhi and across India. People were shocked to hear the news of a four month old baby dying of cold and fever on 6th February at the protest venue where her 24 year old mother Nazia has been sitting non-stop on dharna along with her two other children aged one year and five years. She was quoted as saying that in the name of Islam she would continue her protest despite the death of her baby.
THE REAL MEANING OF 'SHAHEEN'
This fanatic commitment of Nazia will force anyone to go to the roots of Shaheen Bagh movement. This movement has its roots in 'Shaheen Force', which was established exclusively aiming at Muslim women of India in 2008 following the arrest of Safdar Nagaori and Kamruddin, two terrorist leaders of banned Islamic students' organization 'SIMI'. The first action of the 'Shaheen-Force' was witnessed in April same year in Hyderabad when about 40 Muslim women along with their little kids attacked Sahibabd police station of Hyderabad where another leader of SIMI Mohtasim Billa was arrested. Although the woman manhandled many police officials and smashed furniture and other things at the police station, some human rights groups and women rights organizations supported their act and condemned police for the retaliatory action. Nagauri is on record admitting in a newspaper interview that he and his organization openly eulogized Osama Bin Laden and that they got support from some Pakistani leaders, especially from Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the Chief of Pakistan's Jamaat-e-Islami.
AL-QAEDA LINK ?
Another source of inspiration for Indian Shaheen-Force is Pakistan based 'Al Qaeda Saheen Women Force' (AQSWF) which was established in 2015 and is headed by the wife of Al-Jawahiry, head of Al-Qaeda. She is focused at sensitizing Muslim women in the Indian sub continent and mobilizing them for Jihad. In one of her web based motivational lectures to young Muslim women she has been quoted as saying, "I advise you to raise your children in the cult of Jihad and martyrdom and to instill in them the love for religion and death. Each woman will raise her child to be a new Saladin by telling him that it is you who will restore the grandeur of Islamic nation....." According to security agencies SIMI and Shaheen-Force have organized many camps in India and trained about 400 Muslim women for Jihadist activities.
INDOCTRINATION OF CHILDREN
This militant indoctrination of Indian Muslim women through Shaheen-Force explains why Indian Muslim women like Nazia felt committed to keeping their children with them in the Shaheen-Bagh demonstrations. And that also gives answer to the riddle why many little children, as young as five years, at the Shaheen Bagh dharna gave inflammatory bytes like "I will kill Modi and Shah" to the news TV channels as their mothers clapped in the background.
ALLMA IQBAL AND THE 'SHAHEEN'
This takes us to the concept of 'Shaheen' which was first launched by famous Urdu writer Mohammad Iqbal who was, at one stage, a prominent nationalist poet of Indian freedom struggle and author of legendary patriotic song "Saare Jahan Se Achchha Hindosan Hamara.....". But soon he became a major proponent of separate Pakistan. It was in those days when Iqbal, promoting the cause of dividing India to form an Islamic state of Pakistan, wrote his famous book 'Bal-e-Jibreel'. This book included a poem in which he presented the concept of 'SHAHEEN' which stands for falcon and is the metaphor of Islamic youth and power.
He interpreted the flight of a falcon in the sky as a metaphor for its meditation for self-discovery and 'Khudi' i.e. self-respect. Presenting the opponents of division of India as their enemy, Iqbal called upon the Muslim youths to act like Shaheen who dives with alacrity from the sky and swoops on its pray and kills it to eat it unlike a vulture who eats pray killed by others.
WHY 'SHAHEEN-BAGH' ?
After Pakistan was created, he was addressed as Allama (wise man) Iqbal and was honoured as 'Mufakkir-e-Pakistan' meaning 'The Thinker of Pakistan'. This was an equivalent of Mahatma Gandhi being honoured as 'Rashtra Pita' viz. 'Father of Nation' in India. In early 1980s when some Muslims from neighbouring Barreily founded a colony in Jasola area of South Delhi, they wanted to name the colony as 'Allama Iqbal Nagar'. But seeing the local government's opposition to a Pakistani symbol they privately named it after Iqbal's creation 'Shaheen' as 'Shaheen Bagh'. However in the land records of Delhi this colony is referred to as 'Abufazal Part-2'.
Now that Shaheen Bagh dharna has been (temporarily ?) called off and roads are once again clear, it is for anyone to guess where and when the Shaheen movement of Indian Islamists is going to start again. The security agencies and law enforcement machinery will, surely, take the course they are assigned to take. But it is for the rightly thinking citizens of India, especially those who are genuinely and honestly committed to the cause of upholding principles of secularism and democracy to take a right stand whenever it happens.
(Author is a senior journalist and Chairman, Centre for Himalayan Asia Studies and Engagement - CHASE)