On Wednesday, union home minister Amit Shah said in Parliament that the Delhi riots were planned. He also accused the Opposition of deliberately misguiding Indian Muslims on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). He laid the blame squarely on the 'anti-Modi' lobby led by the Congress party. Let us try and connect the dots and put matters into perspective.
On December 11 last year, Parliament enacted the CAA 2019. Three days later, Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi at a public meeting in Delhi's Ram Lila Maidan asked people to come out for an "aar paar ki ladai (a fight to the finish)". Not long after her clarion call, a group of women began the protests in the capital's Shaheen Bagh locality.
Soon, the Congress-led protests against CAA across Delhi. As if on cue, the party's allies start amplifying the Shaheen Bagh protests, shifting focus from the violence at Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University. On January 4, Harsh Mander, former member of the National Advisory Council (NAC) led by Sonia Gandhi during the United Progressive Alliance government, first railed against the courts, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the CAA.
On the 24th, billionaire George Soros criticised PM Modi and India's revised citizenship norms while pledging a billion dollars for a university network to thwart the spread of nationalism worldwide. Mander is a member of Soros's Open Society Foundations. Mander’s other foundation Karwan e Mohabbat backs the Shaheen Bagh protests. Many other Left-leaning anti-Modi voices closely associated with Harsh Mander including John Dayal, Usha Ramanathan, Umar Khalid and Teesta Setalvad encourage "sadak pe andolan (street protests)" across anti CAA forums at Jamia, JNU and elsewhere.
On February 11, the day the Delhi assembly election results came out with a thumping win for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the United States confirmed that President Donald Trump would be visiting India from February 24-25. Around February 16-17, Umar Khalid, Harsh Mander, Waris Pathan and others made statements exhorting anti-CAA protesters to take to the streets.
The weekend before Trump's visit, key roads in north-east Delhi saw a sudden spurt in sit-in blockades.
On February 23, stone-pelting and violence erupted in localities like Maujpur, Chand Bagh, New Mustafabad, etc, around noon. At close to 4.30 pm, as more such instances were reported, BJP leader Kapil Mishra issued a warning in the presence of the area's deputy commissioner police and a crowd that the roads should be cleared in three days.
On February 24-25, there were riots and mayhem. All hell broke loose in north-east Delhi.
By the 26th, the riots had stopped; national security adviser Ajit Doval was out on the streets. Around midnight, Suroor Mander, Harsh Mander’s daughter, moved the Delhi High Court for urgent hearing. In the absence of the Chief Justice and his no. 2, the HC heard the petition that blamed only one section of the motormouths.
Around that time, with an "India's capital is burning" pitch, international media peppered people with a narrative portraying the riots as a pogrom.
On March 4, as the Modi government rejected the UNHCR's intervention and Iran’s comments on the violence, the Supreme Court slammed Harsh Mander for mocking the court and portraying a lopsided picture.
The next day, Anurima Bhargava, a fellow at Soros’s Open Societies Foundation and now commissioner of United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) raised concerns on the violence and Ashutosh Varshney, a recipient of a grant from the Ford Foundation which was in the cross-hairs of authorities over the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act and has found its activities curbed in India under the current dispensation, also pushed an anti-CAA narrative.
So, on the one hand, we have Sonia Gandhi who isn't too fond of Narendra Modi, and then there's George Soros who despises Donald Trump. Harsh Mander is the common link between the two.
Now, how did the radical elements cash in on the anti CAA protests?
On the February 26 episode of The Right Stand, we had drawn the attention of viewers to the fact that many of the places that witnessed unrest and violence in Delhi were pockets where, in the last 2-3 years, seizures of large caches of arms and ammunition had been made, multiple arrests had been made and modules had been busted. Almost all of them were ISIS inspired and terror related.
A lot of these busts took place in the run-up to the general elections in 2019. Let us look at it from a larger perspective. The arms cache haul in 2018 and terror module busts along with multiple arrests negated chances of any 'explosive activity' ahead of the 2019 general elections. But a lot of these radical terror forces continued to float under the radar in the national capital. Then came the mega victory for the Modi Sarkar in May 2019.
By August, the law against instant triple talaq was passed. And then sections of Article 370 were abrogated. Then followed the Ayodhya verdict of the Supreme Court, and in all these instances the government and society at large were able to keep law and order under control. This was because these were all hot-button issues and the security apparatus along with key influencers across communities were on high alert. All the pressure points were mapped. Troublemakers were being watched. Even those who were planning something diabolical decided to lie low.
Then came the CAA 2019. This was a matter in continuation since 2015. The legislation had been passed in Parliament. NPR as an exercise was carried out in 2015. There had been no issues or objection. Somewhere, those keeping a hawk eye blinked, while the 'political' spin doctors were busy spinning the ‘now or never’ or 'aar-paar' narrative.
All that was envisioned for earlier was put into force now, and mayhem across platforms in all forms was unleashed. The security apparatus was caught on the wrong foot. The CAA, an Act that has got nothing to do with the Indian citizen, was spun into an 'anti-Muslim ploy by the Modi Sarkar'. Seizing the opportunity, the radical forces came out of their burrows and the propagandists got to work overtime. Suddenly, Shaheen Bagh became an international campaign.
And the narrative was defined and extolled. Amid all this, the brainwashing and misinformation via social media platforms reached a fever pitch. It was there for all to see. Forty winks by the establishment, a few motormouths, and the Opposition's Modi hatred gave these ‘anti-India’ forces the opportunity to get into the act. Realisation dawned but by then there had been significant damage. More than 50 dead, over 300 including 85 security personnel injured in the riots. 700 FIRs have been filed, about 1,100 rioters identified, 300 from outside Delhi. Money flows have been established in the latest Enforcement Case Information Report. The dots are connected. You draw the conclusions.