“If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”Allama Malcolm X
The Anti-NRC-CAA-NPR protests happening across the country is a historically unprecedented resistance movement in post-Independent India. This movement draws its strength from the dis-empowered and dispossessed citizens of India who believe in the spirit of the constitution that BJP-led government is trying to undermine. A chronology of 6-year BJP rule is a chilling reality of how today’s India is at odds with those who founded this country and how from being viewed as beacon of democracy, India under Narendra Modi’s rule has steeply descended into darkness. Don’t believe me, read the New York Times reportage on India for 2019; it’s the same newspaper that Modi wrote an Op-ed for on Gandhi Jayanti last year. All the globally reputed newspapers that once fostered India’s image, are now replete with scathing editorials. All thanks to BJP’s abuse of power and misleading people into “Vikaas” (development) while, operationally, turning Vikaas upside down and still rides on the arrogance of majoritarianism.
In last 6 years, India has witnessed an unprecedented surge in Islamophobia both overt and covert. There has been at least 365 percent increase in hate speeches, a whopping 700 percent just in first month of Modi 2.0. The power of judiciary has been undermined, India’s global image has been shattered, its soft power has been blown to smithereens, all global economic indices reflect how our economy is in shambles. A cursory look at human development indices reflects how we have gone from bad to worse since BJP government came to power in 2014. As it was not enough, BJP scrapped article 370 and suspended fundamental rights and civil liberties of Kashmiri people with its siege. And then came the acme of arrogance of power in the form of passing Citizenship Amendment Bill, which, in its intent and design, besides being anti-constitutional is thoroughly Islamophobic. Meanwhile, Intolerance is at its peak.
Those who dare speak out and condemn this government are being hounded out. The BJP government and media are witch-hunting and targeting the students, social activists and leaders involved in CAA protests especially those coming from marginalized and dis-empowered communities like Muslims and Dalits, seeking to silence and penalize them. Unlike Congress BJP does not hide it’s Islamophobia infact uses it unabashedly to stole communal passions. On one hand Government misuses state institutions and imposes draconian laws, a colonial legacy, while on the other hand, Godi-media amplifies this witch-hunt by promoting smear campaigns and manufacture lies. Instead of comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable, Indian media fabricates opinion by tons and sing paeans for the government.
For instance: BJP ministers, including Indian home minister, Amit Shah, disgustingly referred to Shaheen Bagh with deeply communal-Islamophobic slurs, so much so that they have offered to clear the Shaheen Bagh if they win upcoming elections in Delhi. When the same “Vikaas” has failed and have nothing to offer to electorate, they have called Delhi elections as match between India and Pakistan, which is not a mere political tactic but reflection of an ideology that is sick and through and through Islamophobic. BJP government is rattled with the sheer defiance of Indian people and the increasing magnitude of this resistance movement, so they are attempting, by all means, to demonize protesters and delegitimize the movement. And to create fear psychosis, the Islamophobia stricken- obedient media is at its beck and call.
I am writing this statement at a time when I am speaking at various anti-CAA protests and raise awareness in this regard while my photos are being morphed, videos of my speeches are being doctored and cherry picked and my media trial is being done with full impunity from BJP government and my agency and role in society is being questioned. It is a high octane hate campaign against me in which my statements are being deliberately misrepresented and misconstrued to suit BJP’s agenda of communal politics and divert the issue from Anti-CAA protests. It exposes the Islamophobia within media, who in the face of such an inspiring movement that speaks truth to power, are coming up with damming appellation to denounce this movement.
As an added emphasis, Indian constitution says Idea of India is not exclusionary. It’s a blend of various faiths and allows for the expression of faith. But since BJP has come to power, it has taken this idea for a ride as well. Even Congressmen reject BJP’s idea of India, but when they do that’s dubbed as dissent and intellectual disagreement whereas when others from marginalized community like me says so that’s called seditious. Why? Are some rights privilege of politicians alone? Or are others more Indian than marginalized ones? Or do the privileged and those in power think that they are more qualified (intellectually) than Muslims and Dalits to define Idea of India? Or if it is Godse’s Idea of India, that you want to superimpose on me and want my submission for then hear it out loud and clear from an unapologetic- unoppressed- agency bearing Muslim woman challenging and resisting your masculinist project: I reject it.
As citizens of this country, I also ask all those who want to sustain the idea of India that stands for equality and fraternity, to participate in this resistance movement. I say that you stand up for values of justice and resist alongside us in this struggle, which belongs to you as much as to anyone else. Justice is a full package, its not chosen in bits and parts but followed in its entirety. In post-independent India, this anti-CAA movement is by far the biggest struggle for equality and justice that this country is witnessing.
Fiercely and unapologetically, I stand by what I said and reiterate that BJP and its media trials and disinformation propaganda will not deter my will. The more you try to suppress me, the stronger my belief in this movement gets and the more I will rise. And this movement would go on until the CAA is revoked, NRC and NPR are rejected and all cases against activists and leaders are quashed. Intifada Inquilab!
Afreen Fatima is a Linguistic student at Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is an elected Councillor of JNU Students Union 2019-20 and former President of Women’s College Students’ Union, Aligarh Muslim University 2018-19.