Rajat Sharma

Let negotiations begin to end the prolonged sit-in at Shaheen Bagh

AKB1411January 30 was Martyrs Day, the day when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in 1948. It is the day when people of India solemnly remember the sacrifices made by our national martyrs.

However, on Thursday, a 17-year-old teenager (name withheld because he is still a juvenile) brought a bad name to the country. It was a day of shame, when this teenager wielded a country made pistol near Jamia Millia university, hurled abuses over ”azadi” and then fired a bullet which injured a Jamia student, who is now out of danger. A case of attempt to murder has been filed against the attacker.

The incident took place minutes before Jamia students were planning to take out a protest march towards Raj Ghat, for which they were not given permission. Police had set up barricades nearly 100 metres away from the campus. When Jamia students decided to defy police and marched ahead, a teenager wearing black jacket, suddenly came out from the crowd, waved his country made pistol and threatened to shoot. The protesters shouted at the police asking them to intervene, while some of them moved ahead to overpower him.

In the melee, the assailant suddenly fired a bullet, which injured a Jamia student Shadab Farooq. Police soon overpowered the assailant and took him into custody. By evening, it was clear that he was a minor, and had posted live video of his menacing act on Facebook. The attacker is a resident of Jewar in Greater Noida. Home Minister Amit Shah has ordered ‘strictest action’ against the culprit. He has assigned a Joint Commissioner of Police to probe the entire incident.

The firing of a bullet at a Jamia student has widened the gulf between the supporters and opponents of CAA and NRC. Questions are being raised as to why Delhi police stood silent and watched the gunman carrying out his act of bravado. Watching the videos closely, one can find that the policemen were indeed acting cautiously. One of the policemen was carefully moving forward to overpower the attacker, but suddenly, in a span of 20-25 seconds, he fired. It was only then that the police overpowered him.

The bullet fired by this mindless attacker has pierced the rock solid wall of national unity. It is nothing but an act of defiance against Bharat Mata. I sent India TV anchor Sourav Sharma to Shaheen Bagh, several kilometres away from the spot outside Jamia, on Thursday night to gauge the mood of women protesters sitting there on dharna since 48 days. I told Sourav to speak to the women protesters as long as they wanted.

The women protesters openly spoke about their concerns, their fears about CAA and NRC, and were indeed hurt over the insinuations that were being made in social media that some of them had been hired to sit on a daily payment basis.

I was happy to note that Sourav tried his best to explain the pros and cons of CAA and NRC, and the women protesters frankly spoke about their concerns and fears. Most of them wanted the Prime Minister or the Home Minister to send a representative to talk to them and give written assurances.

I have only one point to make: those who are sitting on dharna at Shaheen Bagh are our mothers and sisters, and those whose children are facing difficulties in going to schools because of closure of roads are also our mothers and sisters. I hope the concerns and fears being expressed by women sitting on dharna in Shaheen Bagh will reach the eyes and ears of concerned authorities, and an initiative must begin to start a dialogue.

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