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Saturday, March 28, 2020

My dear Shaheen Bagh: No reason for you to fear CAA, or, if it comes, the NRC

Another fallacy that has been doing the rounds has been that the CAA, NPR and NRC have been created to turn India into a “Brahminical society”, or that the “Hindutva” mindset will rule supreme. This is all gibberish propaganda by the Opposition that has lost its ground.

Written by Firoz Bakht Ahmed | Updated: February 21, 2020 9:45:31 am
shaheen bagh protests, shaheen bagh caa protesters, anti caa nrc protesters, indian express The protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Shaheen Bagh. (Express photo)

Dearest dadis Bilkis, Asma and Sarwari,

To start off, dearest dadis, let me share with you the agony I’ve been suffering — that, for the last 70 days, you have been sitting under these tents in the biting cold, at a time when a century-old winter record was broken. A four-month-old infant died at this altar. With folded hands, let me very humbly request you, dear dadis, to go back to your homes: You are the ones who have suffered more. Please go as proud women whose message has been conveyed to the government, the United Nations and even Allah.

Here’s a reminder of the events that finally led to this impasse. On December 15, 2019, vehicles were torched by rioters in New Friends Colony in the aftermath of the “Bharat bachao rally”. Members of the “Gandhi dynasty” poured vitriol then, the negative impact of which is still burning the legacy of Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb.

There was violence between the Delhi Police and Jamia Millia Islamia students. Some miscreants entered the Jamia campus and were taken to task after they stoned the policemen. This resulted in students getting beaten up — where some innocent students, too, were victims. One student lost his eye. Some are accusing the police of entering the campus without the vice-chancellor’s permission. But they entered only after the stone-pelting started.

Let me come to the CAA: It has nothing to do with Muslims or, for that matter, any other community. Some people with vested interests — and for their political agendas — have been instigating our Muslim brethren because the political rug has moved from under their feet.

Opinion | Saba Rahman writes: Why Shaheen Bagh matters — It offers protest template, rejects clergy, challenges patriarchy

Before Shaheen Bagh happened, the blocked road in front of gate number seven of Jamia saw a flurry of anti-CAA/anti-NRC slogans. Most of these were against the government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the RSS and the BJP. Even at that time, the student community was misled by opposition leaders, members of the actor fraternity and assorted members of some apologist platforms. I condemn all this. However, I believe since the government is ready to have a meaningful dialogue, things will improve.

You have also been provoked into believing that the CAA is the first step before the introduction of NRC. There cannot be a bigger farce than this as the NRC draft is not even ready — as stated by the prime minister during his Delhi rally. Even if it is ready, let me assure you: None of you in Shaheen Bagh, or anywhere in India, will suffer.

Whether you furnish the papers or not, nobody will be sent to detention camps. Nobody will be thrown out of the country or have his/her citizenship taken away. Another fallacy that has been doing the rounds has been that the CAA, NPR and NRC have been created to turn India into a “Brahminical society”, or that the “Hindutva” mindset will rule supreme. That Indian Muslims will be deprived of their land, property, voting rights, etc. This is all gibberish propaganda by the Opposition that has lost its ground. The NRC will affect not you, but only the real illegal migrants, who need to be taken care of.

Opinion | Harsh Mander writes: Protests are not just against the CAA-NRIC-NPR trinity, but have already succeeded in numerous ways

The detention camps are not for you, my Muslim brethren. I promise that none of you will be disturbed. Let me also tell you that the NRC and the detention camps have been there in India since 1955, the time of the Congress, but they are not for law-abiding people like you.

Finally, please wait for a couple of months and do give the establishment an opportunity to finally patch up and manage the country — it is only in the interest of all of you and, above all, our beloved India whose flag has been such an endearing symbol to all of you. I was told that, apart from others, those who have suffered the most from this blockade, have been the Shaheen Bagh residents themselves, many of whose businesses have been disrupted. Apart from that, the Supreme Court, too, has requested you to take care of your homes and families. I reiterate, the CAA is irrelevant for you. It is for the depressed and harassed minorities of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

The NPR is just a census and it is a very safe survey. All countries do it. It will help the government to better understand how many elderly, young and unemployed people are there among the citizenry. Please try to understand, this list is not to throw you into a detention camp. In fact, it may be to help you out. The prime minister, home minister and, in fact, the entire government, loves you all.

Your son,

Firoz

The writer is the chancellor of Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad

Opinion | Rajmohan Gandhi writes: CAA doesn’t carry out Mahatma Gandhi’s wishes, it brazenly defies them

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