The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) alleged on Monday that the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh were “scripted and strategised” by the BJP and that the over three-month-long road blockade led by a large number of Muslim women was designed to benefit the BJP in the assembly polls held earlier this year.
Addressing a news conference, AAP chief spokesperson Saurabh Bharadwaj said “pro-democracy” citizens must be feeling “cheated and manipulated” as the “BJP pulled the strings” of the protest that they had joined. On Monday, a group of Muslims had joined the BJP, which claimed “over 50 of them were from Shaheen Bagh“.
While the AAP had resisted getting drawn into the Shaheen Bagh debate ahead of the Delhi assembly polls, barring Deputy CM Manish Sisodia’s remark that he “stands with the people of Shaheen Bagh”, its latest assertion marks a departure from its earlier position.
“The topmost leadership of the BJP scripted each and every step of the Shaheen Bagh protest. They decided who will say what, who will attack whom and who is going to do the counter-attack. All these things were planned and well scripted,” Bharadwaj said.
Hundreds of women from Shaheen Bagh and nearby localities had blocked the Delhi-Noida link road between February 14 and March 24 as they protested against the proposed National Register of Citizens and the new citizenship law.
The protests, which were joined by a large number of students, civil society activists, artistes, singers and actors, had drawn global attention. It had spawned similar protests across the country.
“A group of 10 women started the blockade and the Delhi Police allowed it to happen. The same police do not allow protests by students, teachers, farmers. It did not prevent installation of tents. Over 1 lakh vehicles faced inconvenience daily… Shaheen Bagh pe logon ki duty lagti thi, people used to come and sit, maintaining a proper schedule. Every morning, some people used to come, only to go home in the afternoon, eat food, take rest and then again return in the evening,” Bharadwaj said.
Among those who joined the BJP on Sunday was one Shahzad Ali, a member of the Rashtriya Ulama Council. The BJP has said Ali was a “Shaheen Bagh social activist” — a claim disputed by volunteers of the protest, which was withdrawn on March 24 after the imposition of the national Covid lockdown.
The AAP, however, claimed that “key people behind the protest” joined the BJP.
Bharadwaj said it was now clear why Union Home Minister Amit Shah had remarked during a Delhi assembly election campaign rally that on pressing the “Lotus botton, Shaheen Bagh will feel the current”. “Now we know that the Lotus wire was connected to Shaheen Bagh,” the Greater Kailash MLA said, attributing the rise in BJP’s vote share in Delhi from 18% to 38% to the Shaheen Bagh protest.
Shaheen Bagh falls under the Okhla assembly segment, which was bagged by AAP’s Amanatullah Khan by over 70,000 votes, defeating BJP’s Braham Singh.
“Will people who raised anti-India slogans, pro-Pakistan slogans now join the BJP or were they with the BJP in the first place? The Delhi Police did not take any action against those people. I want to tell the BJP supporters of Delhi that the people against whom you guys protested or opposed actually belonged to the BJP itself,” he said.
“Many pro-democratic people had joined this protest. Many joined it thinking it was pro-democracy. But they also did not understand that it was a brainchild of the BJP,” he added.
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