On 5 February 2023, Delhi court discharged activists Sharjeel Imam, Safoora Zargar, Asif Ali Tanha and eight others in a case related to the violence that took place at Jamia Millia Islamia in December 2019 saying they had been made scapegoats because police couldn’t catch the actual perpetrators.
Professor Ramachandra Guha, a respected Indian historian, environmentalist and writer was critical of the current attitude of Indian government to be authoritarian and warning of the decline of democratic credentials in the country.
In one interview to The Wire, he explained that the decline of democratic rights started in late 1960s and early 1970s when Indira Gandhi was the prime minister. He recalls the first systematic attack on national institutions such as the civil services, police, judiciary and the media were a hallmark of Indira Gandhi.
The precedence set was further exploited by current BJP regime. The distinction though was that Mrs Gandhi was of authoritarian attitude whereas Modi/shah regime is majoritarian in nature, in addition to playing authoritarianism.
Professor Guha compares both the regimes in a clever remark as “Narendra Modi is Indira Gandhi on steroids”. [Ref: Ramachandra Guha on Hindutva history, economics of majoritarian politics | NL Interview: Teaser – YouTube]
In a similar incident Journalist Siddique Kappan, who breathed freedom after being jailed for 28 months, told The Wire that he was “targeted” only because he is a Muslim. Kappan said he was “targeted” because he had raised his voice against media censorship under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government.
“In the process, news portals, supportive of Hindutva politics, called me the mastermind of Delhi riots,” he alleged. According to him, the government and the Hindutva brigade felt that it was a “perfect distraction” from the gang rape of a Dalit woman in Hathras, which received severe backlash against the BJP and the Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh. [Ref: ‘I Was Targeted Because I am a Muslim’: Siddique Kappan Recounts His Harrowing Time in Jail (thewire.in)]
For Jamia students and Siddiqui Kappan, this is a big relief, and they are strong and more resolute to bring fresh energy in bringing forth political and social issues to the forefront.
There is still a big majority with popular opinion that still believes in manufactured consents of Islamophobia and anti-minority stance and view this court decision as flawed.
On one hand they believe Modi to be free of all massacre charges of Gujarat riots as courts have dismissed all allegations, but on the other hand this court’s judgements in favour of innocent activists is termed as shady.
There is an ongoing state of emergency India is facing and Muslims are being used to politicize every issue possible by terming phrases like corona-jihad, love-jihad, land-jihad etc.
Current government is using all in its power and various tactics to suppress the truth while building a narrative of hate and fear to win upcoming 2024 elections.
There are few rays of hope and sizeable intellectuals and activists on ground to dismantle these narratives. We hope, India settles in its traditional values of unity and diversity, tolerance and uproots evils disguised as nationalism.