In the recent years, with the rise of BJP at the centre, India has witnessed a consolidation of communal authoritarian rule. The increasing onslaughts on minorities and fascistic methods of suppressing democratic and constitutional rights, are accompanied by an equally vicious Neo-liberal agenda in the form of aggressive privatisation of basic services being peddled as “reforms”. The nexus between Neo-liberalism and communalism is a fertile soil for authoritarian trends which are visible in many forms not just in the political sphere but also the social – the conspiracy theories of “love-jihad”, denunciation and incarceration of artists and intellectuals, censorship, shrinking spaces for political protest mobilisations, legislations invoking national security and being used with impunity for false encounters, illegal detentions, custodial tortures.
The Gujarat model was as much a Neo-liberal capitalist model as it was communal. Modi’s declarations of “minimum government and maximum governance” is what was deployed at the national scale. A year that started with strong and formidable voices of protest at Shaheen Bagh, has ended with steadfast farmers at the borders of the capital demanding that the laws that usher in a predatory model of corporates, be repealed. In a year that perfectly sums up the assaults of the ruling dispensation, as well the forms that resistance against it must take, here’s a look back:
The colour of protest: Mustard blooming on the barricades
“A protest does not end in its immediacy; It travels its unknown paths. It marks its footprints. It leaves its shadow. Shaheen Bagh is not yet dead. It is the name of the spirit. It has appeared in Tikri border” argues the author as he writes about the importance of protests in the current scenario of silencing in the name of a pandemic.
The farmers’ protests happening around the borders of Delhi have brought together people belonging to different parts of the country and from varied socio-economic backgrounds and age groups. The protesters and their supporters shared their experiences of the agitation so far, what they learned, the changes it brought about in their lives and how it is shaping their thought processes with Newsclick.
Trolley Times: The birth of a newspaper at Singhu Border
Art and literature emerges around any protests quite spontaneously. As we saw during the protests against CAA, poetry, graffiti, songs and art emerged from every corner of the country giving expression to the diverse voices protesting against the law. We are witnessing similar forms of expressions around the farmers protests. One of the examples is the birth of a newspaper called ‘Trolley Times’ started by a group of youngsters, mainly for the purpose of addressing the incorrect reporting by the mainstream media. Aishwarya Shrivastav speaks to the members of Trolley times and writes about their vision behind the initiative in The Citizen.
Written by Ajmal Khan, poet and researcher, who teaches at Ashoka University and Ambedkar University. The poem has been translated by Varun Grover, lyricist and screenwriter, and is inspired by Mahmoud Darwish in Palestine, Agha Shahid Ali in Kashmir and the Miya poets in Assam.
It has been more than a year since the December 13th violence that took place at the Jamia Millia Islamia campus in 2019. With that began the Anti-Citizenship Act movement with Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi at its centre. A Muslim-dominated area, where women sat in bitter winter nights for days on end, asking for the CAA Act to be repealed and resisting the National Register of Citizens. A year is not a long time; its emotional impact has not been spoken about either. The young students are ordinary people in whose hearts trauma has made a home.
A year ago as the protests against the Citizenship Act were ongoing, the author writes reports about the events at Shaheen Bagh sit-in protests and highlights the secular nature of it, “On Sunday, people belonging to different faiths came together at Shaheen Bagh to take part in “Sarv Dharma Samvad” (equal respect for all religions or peaceful co-existence of all religions). The inter-faith ceremony was organised with traditional “hawan” performed by a Hindu priest, Quran recitation by local Muslims, Sikh “kirtans” and Bible recitation. Later, they all read out the Preamble of the Constitution and pledged to preserve India’s “socialist and secular” values.”
“Main har shahar ka Shaheen Bagh hoon” by Farah Naqvi
Author and activist, Farah Naqvi, on why the women of Shaheen Bagh are protesting against the discriminatory trio of CAA-NPR-NRC.