Rajat Sharma

How Delhi Police foiled secret plan to revive Shaheen Bagh movement

akb0210For the last few days I had been getting news about attempts being made to revive the Shaheen Bagh movement in Delhi. Viewers may remember, this movement by groups of Muslim women was launched in south-east Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh locality from December 11 last year and ended abruptly on March 24 this year when the nationwide lockdown began.

The round-the-clock sit-in by women at Shaheen Bagh led to closure of the main arterial road connecting south-east Delhi with Noida causing woes to thousands of commuters for more than three months. The protesters were demanding withdrawal of Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register.

There were reports that women and children were being persuaded to sit on indefinite dharna inside tents again at Shaheen Bagh. There were also reports of students of Jamia Milla Islamia preparing to sit on dharna outside the university’s main gate.

India TV reporters went out to investigate and confirmed that a major attempt was made to revive the movement on June 3. The plan was carried out secretly and the aim was to mislead several thousand people to gather at the site all of a sudden, without giving any clue to the police. Messages were being circulated in WhatsApp groups asking people to congregate at Shaheen Bagh on June 3 to join the protest. The hashtag was #SabYaadRakhaJayega .

The activists, in order to give police a slip, refrained from using old WhatsApp groups and known Twitter handles. To conceal the real intention, it was named as a nationwide protest, but in reality, it was not so. There were also reports of secret meetings going on inside houses in Jamia and Shaheen Bagh localities. The purpose was to chalk out a plan for women and children to reach the site suddenly.

Delhi Police however got to know about this and erected its own tents at the particular site to forestall the game plan of the activists. Police was also deployed outside Jamia Millia Islamia to prevent gatherings of students.

This time, the agitators had decided to make an issue about the arrests of JNU activists Sharjeel Imam, Ishrat Jahan, Khalid Saifi and Sheikhaur Rahman, and Jamia activists Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider and Asif Iqbal.

The WhatsApp messages claimed that nearly 200 organisations had given the call for a nationwide protest. While sifting through the names, India TV reporters found most of the outfits belonged to Communists with CPI and CPI(M) leanings. These were the groups which had been waging protests over CAA and NRC issues. Muslim students and women were kept in the forefront, while the Left outfits were providing backup support.

Due to alertness of Delhi Police, the plan to revive Shaheen Bagh movement from June 3 was foiled, and police have been deployed at the trouble spots.

Political forces, which are unable to digest the landslide victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in last year’s Lok Sabha elections, were happy when the Shaheen Bagh movement began. They though they have gained the support of Muslim voters on CAA and NRC issues. With the spread of Coronavirus, these outfits were completely stumped.

Had the virus not originated from China and spread to the West, they could have easily blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for creating this virus scare in order to deflect people’s attention from Shaheen Bagh movement.

With the onset of the pandemic, these agitators stood no chance. They knew that their own lives and the lives of women and children were at stake. They were unwilling to take such a big risk. With the nationwide lockdown in force, their movement was bound to fizzle out.

After the unlocking process began and restrictions were relaxed, these forces again joined hands and decided to revive the Shaheen Bagh movement. But times have changed. The police had its informers ready and the plan was nixed in the bud. Thus, another form of ‘virus’ that was to affect our body politic, was put to an end.

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