Skip to main content

Kejriwal’s hands tied, Delhi Police under Home Ministry? No one muzzled his mouth

By Rakesh Sharma*
#DelhiRiots #VigilanteViolence #DelhiBurning
AAP aur Hum/ आप और हम:
What terrible irony!
2012: Water cannons used against Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) protestors.
2020: Water cannons used to disperse JNU, Jamia protestors outside chief minister Kejriwal’s residence.
Gandhi never hid behind police barricades. Nehru jumped into a hostile, bloodthirsty crowd in 1947, daring them to harm him first. During the 1993 Mumbai riots, my hero, Sunil Gavaskar thought nothing of putting himself between a murderous mob and their defenceless victim!
It is such moments that define and make a man, transform him into a hero or a great leader. It is actions that speak aloud, not Rajghat photo-ops, anguished social media posts, helpline memes or template tweets from the IT cell to rebut critiques!
Yes, we know electoral compulsions caused an enforced, politically expedient silence. But what explains it since February 12, the day after AAP returned to power with such a massive mandate?
Any political leader worth his salt has his finger on the pulse of the people. Hard to believe that Kejriwal was or is in any way unaware of the mass anti-National Register of Citizens (NRC)/ Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in dozens of cities and small towns across the length and breadth of India! Or the deep fear and anxiety it has caused among those who voted for him overwhelmingly.
Delhi has been on the boil for over 2 months. A period that saw police brutality and organised violence at Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru (JNU). Incidents of firing at peaceful protestors by Hindutva hotheads. 
Provocative speeches and incendiary slogans by BJP leaders. Large-scale fear and anxiety among people about having to prove their Indianness, their citizenship, or become a foreigner in your own land, left to rot inside detention camps, as no other country would accept erstwhile Indian citizens, now suddenly declared dubious.
That’s why when I saw the Kejriwal-Shah pic, smiling and exchanging bouquets, I hoped that the first thing they discussed was the ongoing protests in Delhi. Only to hear Arvind Kejriwal say -- Shaheen Bagh was not discussed! Why on earth not?
Yes, we know Kejriwal’s hands are tied as Delhi Police is under the Home Ministry through the LG. But no one muzzled his mouth, preventing him from issuing firm, categorical statements that AAP government will resist new-format NPR, or any kind of discriminatory NPR. 
No one has tied his legs to prevent him from walking across to any protest site. To be and among his own people, hearing their concerns, calming their fears, reassuring them of his support and solidarity.
As someone who saw the birth of AAP as a ray of hope and as its erstwhile supporter, this is terribly disappointing.
I’m well aware that upset AAP supporters will respond with outrage, repeat some basic homilies especially about realpolitik, perhaps even question my intentions or sanity, certainly my understanding of politics in India. This post will be flooded with screenshots of tweets, ‘proving’ AAP is hyper-active on the ground. 
Many will assume I do not know Delhi Police is under lieutenant governor (LG)/ Home Ministry and proceed to educate me in ways polite and otherwise. Their trolls will even tell me how I’m a closet Sanghi, Congi stooge or worse, as they’ve done in the past in response to any criticism of their Supremo, with the same force and zeal as Modibhakt trolls!
To repeat - actions speak louder than any words!
Let’s see. Will Education Minister Sisodia visit and spend time at Jamia and JNU? Assist the brutalised students in their quest for justice to ensure that the guilty are apprehended, prosecuted and punished. Whether it is Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) goons who got mobs into JNU, or the cops who fired teargas shells into libraries, brutally assaulted research scholars, or the Hindutva hothead gunmen who fired on campus?
Now that even Nitish Kumar has discovered a spine and Bihar Assembly has passed resolutions, it’ll be interesting to watch what the AAP government does
Now that even Nitish Kumar has discovered a spine and Bihar Assembly has passed resolutions, it’ll be interesting to watch what the AAP government does. Will they hold an Emergency Assembly Session and pass resolutions like Kerala and several other state governments have done?
Will they refuse to implement the new-format NPR, the formal first step towards NRC? Will they join citizens in protesting against the discriminatory CAA-NRC? Take the lead to forge a national forum of opposition parties? Or at least join hands with them? Or facilitate the RSS-BJP plan through silences, inaction or tokenisms?
We will know soon enough.
All leaders make mistakes. Good leaders are those who accept and acknowledge their errors to do course corrections. Great leaders are those who stand with the people, whatever be the political or electoral costs in the short-term (And AAP doesn’t need to worry for years, till Punjab or Delhi re-elections!). Time to talk, clearly, unambiguously. And then, to walk that talk!
***
PS: I documented and filmed Modi-Shah and their Gujarat extensively between 2002-12. I’ve been a keen observer of Indian politics, especially Hindutva polity, for 30+ years. So, the infamous Gujarat Model now unfolding in Delhi is no surprise to me. Nor do I expect the prime minister (PM)/ home minister (HM) of India to react in a manner dissimilar to the way they responded as chief minister (CM)/ HM of Gujarat in 2002!
Yes, I know Amit Shah is the Home Minister, or that we must critique him and demand his resignation for the ongoing horrific Delhi violence, even if it is pointless.
But, are we not even entitled to ask questions and demand answers from those who promised change and elicited our support in the name of a newer kind of politics?
---
* Film-maker and a student of politics, history, literature, society and human behaviour. Source: Author’s Facebook timeline

Comments

Unknown said…
On dot, even if it hurts. And hurt it should.

TRENDING

Young environmentalist's arrest 'sinister', even parents not told of her whereabouts

By Our Representative  The Coalition for Environmental Justice in India (CEJI), a civil society network, has said that it is “highly disturbing” that Disha Ravi, a young woman climate activist from Bengaluru was “picked up” in what is referred to as a “closely guarded operation” of the Delhi police. Disha, 21, has been remanded to police custody for five days after she was taken from Bengaluru to Delhi.

Mukesh Ambani's earnings during Covid 'can lift' 40% informal workers out of poverty

By Dr Gian Singh*  The Inequality Virus Report released by Oxfam, a non-profit organization, on January 25, 2021 on the growing inequalities in different parts of the world, sheds light on the growing economic, educational, healthcare and gender inequalities in India. The report has revealed that the wealth of billionaires has increased by 35 per cent during the lockdown period in the country.

US forensic revelation enough evidence to release Sudha Bharadwaj, others: Civicus

Counterview Desk  Civicus, a Johannesburg-based global alliance of civil society organisations and activists claiming to have presence in 175 countries with 9,000 members and working for strengthening citizen action, has sought immediate release of Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and accused of having links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Evolution of Sardar Patel's understanding of those 'involved' in Gandhi's assassination

By Shamsul Islam*  As the world mourns the 73rd anniversary of MK Gandhi's assassination by Hindutva terrorists on January 30, 1948, RSS, the most prominent flag-bearer of Hindutva politics, whose cadres rule India today, is found reacting angrily to the reality – that the criminals who assassinated Gandhiji were not only part of the ideological world-view of Hindu Mahasabha (led by VD Savarkar) and RSS brand of Hindu nationalism but were also connected with these. 

No Election Commission safeguard against electromagnetic hacking of EVM: Study

Counterview Desk  Releasing a new study simultaneously in Chennai and Kolkata in view of the forthcoming elections in Tamil Nadu and West Bengal, the Citizens’ Commission on Elections (CCE) – a civil society initiative – has regretted “lack of integrity of EVM voting”, pointing out, the Election Commission of India (ECI) does not appear to safeguard against the possibilities of ‘side-channel attacks’, i.e, hacking electronic devices through electromagnetic and other methods.

20% of FIRs against journalists in 2020 alone, targeted attacks in 2021 'too many to count'

Counterview Desk  Condemning what it calls “alarming rise in state repression and clampdown on news outlets and journalists” that “expose” the anti-people nature of the establishment, India's top civil society network, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) has demanded “immediate release of arrested journalists, withdrawal of arbitrary charges and protection of media persons facing threats.”

'Viability' of agricultural cooperatives vs govt proposed pro-corporate economic model

Dr Gian Singh* The farmer struggle started from Punjab against the promulgation of three agricultural ordinances by the Union government in June 2020 and the enactment of three bills by Parliament in September 2020 to replace these ordinances is unique in many respects. There is no other example of such a peaceful and democratic farmer struggle.

Whither right to food? Social security scheme allocation for woman, child 'reduced'

Counterview Desk Pointing out that women and children have been ignored in the Union Budget 2021-22, the advocacy group Right to Food Campaign (RtFC) has said that the Government of India should have taken into account the fact that even after the lockdown was lifted, distress among marginalized communities continues, with people having lower incomes and reduced food consumption.