Stoking the enemy within

Shashwat Gupta Ray
Thursday, 27 February 2020

Balakot strike 1st anniversary drowns in Delhi mayhem

Exactly a year ago, the nation's mood was euphoric as India did the unthinkable. It conducted air strike against terrorist camps of Jaish-e-Mohammed by sending India Air Force fighters across the border deep inside Pakistani territory.

The entire country was celebrating as the Government of India had once again conducted a silent surprise against the enemy by conducting a daring cross border raid to avenge the killings of 40 CRPF jawans in a suicide attack in Pulawama.

This was followed by a retaliatory incursion by Pakistani Air Force which sent its F-16 fighters into India, which were chased away by Indian Air Force (IAF) fighters. IAF pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was one of the pilots involved in repelling PAF incursion. He was engaged a F-16 fighter in a dogfight and destroyed it.

In the process, his fighter was also hit. Although he managed to eject safely, he landed in Pakistani territory and was held captive temporarily, during which he showed extreme grit and determination. He was later released by Pakistani government as a "goodwill" gesture.

This time last year was fully action packed and Indian Air Force had made a telling impact globally by not only accomplishing its mission of bombing terrorist camps in enemy territory undetected, but also shooting down the US-made frontline fighter F-16.

It turned out to be a massive embarrassment for the most powerful country in the world and its huge defence manufacturing sector, especially Lockheed Martin, which made the fighter and was extensively used by US during the Cold War era.

Exactly a year later, when the country should be celebrating these accomplishments, unfortunately all this has been forgotten as the nation is busy counting the mounting corpses in country's national capital. For last four days there has been continuous violence in parts of Delhi where there have been anti-CAA and NRC protests.

Since the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) was passed in December, several protests have been organised across the country. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders have not just continuously questioned the motives of the protesters but have also made communal and incendiary remarks against them, and yet no action has been initiated against them.
In the case of the northeast Delhi violence, tensions began with incidents of stone-pelting on Sunday, February 23, following a rally by BJP leader Kapil Mishra to oppose the CAA protests in the area. At the rally, Mishra even issued a three-day ultimatum to the Delhi police to clear the area and said that after the ultimatum, he would not listen to the police. This, he said in presence of a Delhi police officer standing by his side.

However, this is not the first time that Kapil Mishra has garnered media attention for his communal remarks. At a pro-CAA rally on December 21 last year, he chanted "Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maro salo ko (shoot the traitors)". Later on January 24, 2020, ahead of the Delhi assembly elections, Mishra equated the polls to an 'India versus Pakistan contest'.
Mishra's verbal tirade was followed up diligently by other senior BJP leaders during Delhi Assembly election campaigning.

On January 27, BJP leader and Minister of State for Finance, Anurag Thakur, encouraged the audience at a rally in Delhi's Daryaganj to shout the same provocative slogan. Just a day after the incident, BJP MP from West Delhi constituency, Parvesh Verma, said that if the prevailing situation at Shaheen Bagh continued, the protesters would enter their homes and rape women.

Close on the heels of these remarks, the same day; an armed man entered the protest site at Shaheen Bagh and threatened the anti-CAA agitators. There was another juvenile who shot at anti-CAA protestors and injured a student in Jamia on January 30.

These are not just incidents of communal violence. These are reactions to the inflammatory statements of leaders from the party in power at the Centre. The Prime Minister and Union Home Minister don't move a fig. The Delhi police is busy setting new records of stooping to new low everyday by either not protecting its citizens or indulging in violence themselves, like In Jamia University.

What the political establishment is forgetting that in their endeavour to score political brownie points by spreading hate and indulging in communal violence leads to further alienation of the minorities, especially Muslims, as their loyalty to the nation is always suspected. Their socio-growth has been mostly retarded. Wounds of communal violence fuels the fire in them and makes them rebels. They are then labelled as terrorists/naxals. They get engaged in a protracted bloody war with the army and paramilitary.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), those who feel isolated can sometimes be easily convinced by violent extremist beliefs. Anxiety, frustration, painful experiences - including physical or emotional abuse - all these allow extremist groups to use as tool to misguide youth and turn them against their country.

The suicide bomber who killed 44 paramilitary policemen in Kashmir joined a militant group after having been allegedly beaten by troops three years ago, his parents had told Reuters in an interview. Terrorism in Punjab flared up after Operation Blue Star, which subsequently led to assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Her killing led to killing of 3,000 Sikhs in Delhi in 1984.

It is no secret that militant organisations use video tapes of incidents like Babri Masjid demolition, post-Godhra Pogrom to influence minds of Muslim youth and turn make them terrorists. It will be be surprising if now the Delhi pogrom of 2020 gets added in the list.

According to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, since year 2000 total 44905 lives have been lost to terrorism. This includes 13856 civilians, 7188 security forces and 22664 terrorists - many of who were Indian citizens. This year alone, till February 25 64 terrorism related fatalities have been recorded.

Communal violence is a zero-sum game. The establishment is sleeping with the enemy within and fanning it for political gains. But its long term implications will be too huge for anyone to handle. The voters have to realise whom they are voting for. Let's shun our hardline emotions from ourselves and embrace everyone. Otherwise "Eye for an eye will make the world blind".

The court examined as many as 46 witnesses including the investigating police officer PI Sudiksha Naik to prove the charge but in vain.
Adv Peter F Fernandes argued on behalf of the alleged accused and the State was represented by public prosecutor V G Costa.

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