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Politics India

Modi's 'clothes of perpetrators of violence' remark strengthens communal actions of Delhi's police?

PM makes communally insensitive comment about anti-CAA protesters during election rally in Jharkhand.

Sabrangindia 16 Dec 2019

modi

While addressing an election rally in Dumka in Jharkhand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made scathing remarks against those protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in West Bengal and the North East. Modi claimed that the protesters were operating with the blessings of the Congress and other opposition parties and insinuated that they all belonged to a particular religious community.

The Indian Express quoted the PM saying, “Yeh Congresswale aur uske saathi… halla macha rahe hain, toofaan khara kar rahe hain. Aur unki baat chalti nahin hai to aag janee phaila rahe hain. Jo aag laga rahe hain, TV pe unke jo drishya aa rahe hain, yeh aag lagaane vaale kaun hain, woh unke kapdon se hi pata chal jaata hai.”

(The Congress and its allies are making a noise, creating a storm. And if that doesn’t work, they are spreading a fire… From the visuals on TV, those setting the fire can be identified by their clothes.)

A remark of this level by the country's Prime Minister can only send polarising messages down, further. Already eye-witness accounts of students (and the Chief Proctor of Jamia, Waseem Ahmed Khan) have testified to the targeted attack on Jamia's students. There is worse. While beating and firing at young, innocent students, the police were heard making brazenly communal remarks. “Maaro inko, ye katwe hai” (Thrash them, these circumcised). I heard them saying this many times. They opened fire at the campus, damaged the mosques, and beat up students. Now with the country's prime minister disparaging anguished protesters through an identity marker of their clothing, does not this attitude among Indian policemen get strengthened?

This remark is extremely dangerous given the deeply polarized socio-political atmosphere in the region at the moment. It also appears to be yet another attempt to add a communal spin to the protests in a bid to feed the right wing’s ‘minorities are anti-national’ narrative. However, protesters in Assam and the wider Northeast region have maintained that their protest is not anti-Muslim, but against the provisions of the CAA that make it legal for immigrants from Bangladesh to get Indian citizenship.

It is also noteworthy that the statement was made at a rally in Dumka, which until recently was a Jharkhan Mukti Morcha bastion and where people still have deep respect for Shibu Soren. His son and former Jharkhand Chief Minister, Hemant Soren, is contesting from this constituency. The tribals have traditionally voted for JMM and the Muslim vote also appears to be swinging their way given the Congress-JMM coalition.

JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya told The Wire, “The prime minister wants to create communal tensions between the tribal and non-tribal voters on the one hand and the minority Muslim population on the other. It does not suit the position of a prime minister.” He added, “Why is he not speaking about growing unemployment? Why is he not speaking of the closing industries and business, the growing job loss? Why is he not speaking of the lynchings in the state?”  

Modi's 'clothes of perpetrators of violence' remark strengthens communal actions of Delhi's police?

PM makes communally insensitive comment about anti-CAA protesters during election rally in Jharkhand.

modi

While addressing an election rally in Dumka in Jharkhand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made scathing remarks against those protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in West Bengal and the North East. Modi claimed that the protesters were operating with the blessings of the Congress and other opposition parties and insinuated that they all belonged to a particular religious community.

The Indian Express quoted the PM saying, “Yeh Congresswale aur uske saathi… halla macha rahe hain, toofaan khara kar rahe hain. Aur unki baat chalti nahin hai to aag janee phaila rahe hain. Jo aag laga rahe hain, TV pe unke jo drishya aa rahe hain, yeh aag lagaane vaale kaun hain, woh unke kapdon se hi pata chal jaata hai.”

(The Congress and its allies are making a noise, creating a storm. And if that doesn’t work, they are spreading a fire… From the visuals on TV, those setting the fire can be identified by their clothes.)

A remark of this level by the country's Prime Minister can only send polarising messages down, further. Already eye-witness accounts of students (and the Chief Proctor of Jamia, Waseem Ahmed Khan) have testified to the targeted attack on Jamia's students. There is worse. While beating and firing at young, innocent students, the police were heard making brazenly communal remarks. “Maaro inko, ye katwe hai” (Thrash them, these circumcised). I heard them saying this many times. They opened fire at the campus, damaged the mosques, and beat up students. Now with the country's prime minister disparaging anguished protesters through an identity marker of their clothing, does not this attitude among Indian policemen get strengthened?

This remark is extremely dangerous given the deeply polarized socio-political atmosphere in the region at the moment. It also appears to be yet another attempt to add a communal spin to the protests in a bid to feed the right wing’s ‘minorities are anti-national’ narrative. However, protesters in Assam and the wider Northeast region have maintained that their protest is not anti-Muslim, but against the provisions of the CAA that make it legal for immigrants from Bangladesh to get Indian citizenship.

It is also noteworthy that the statement was made at a rally in Dumka, which until recently was a Jharkhan Mukti Morcha bastion and where people still have deep respect for Shibu Soren. His son and former Jharkhand Chief Minister, Hemant Soren, is contesting from this constituency. The tribals have traditionally voted for JMM and the Muslim vote also appears to be swinging their way given the Congress-JMM coalition.

JMM general secretary Supriyo Bhattacharya told The Wire, “The prime minister wants to create communal tensions between the tribal and non-tribal voters on the one hand and the minority Muslim population on the other. It does not suit the position of a prime minister.” He added, “Why is he not speaking about growing unemployment? Why is he not speaking of the closing industries and business, the growing job loss? Why is he not speaking of the lynchings in the state?”  

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