— Mahatma Gandhi, after being shot by Nathuram Godse, January 30, 1948
— Lead headline, The Telegraph, Calcutta, January 31, 2020
And the distinction
between violent and non-violent action is that the former is exclusively bent
upon the destruction of the old, and the latter is chiefly concerned with the
establishment of something new.
— Hannah Arendt
So how much voltage of what kind of ‘current’ is Amit Shah fantasising to send terrible shivers down the spine and guts of the resilient and peaceful people in Shaheen Bagh?
Only he would know in his typically xenophobic dreams and possible insomnia as to how high the voltage shock of buttons of electronic voting machines (EVM) pressed elsewhere in Delhi should be on February 11 so as to teach more terrible lessons, across the non-violent assembly of thousands of mothers, sisters, daughters, and Indian citizens, beyond caste, age, demography, geography, identity, religion, class and status. Many of them young children, girls and boy, including infants and tiny tots fighting it out stoically in the biting cold: Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians. Many of them Bengalis, Tamils, Punjabis, Biharis, Malayalees, Marathis, Kashmiris, even Gujaratis, and from the sublime Seven Sisters of the beautiful and distant North-east, among others from the Great Indian Map of ‘Unity in Diversity’.
How much current are you imagining Mr Shah?
And does your guru, prophet and patron from Gujarat, your accomplice, ally, dream-buddy and superman know about the kind of current the buttons on EVMs will unleash? You love your EVMs, don’t you, post the grand and impossible triumph in the 2014 Lok Sabha?
How much current will Amit Shah re-imagine in his ‘Hindu Rashtra’ when it comes to a pan-India phenomenon?
What will he do with the hundreds of peaceful Shaheen Baghs, led by mothers and sisters, and youngsters and students, wearing bindis, bangles and hijabs in a cross-cultural kaleidoscopic carnival, singing ‘hum dekhenge’ in Tamil, Kannadiga, Bengali and Bhojpuri, among other languages of the beautiful landscape of languages and dialects and music and lyricism that is India, from Tawang to Kochi to Bikaner Pahalgam?
What will he do with the Mansur Ali Park women in Allahabad, the Idgah in Deoband, the Ghantaghar in Lucknow, the Sabji Bagh in Patna, Inderlok and Khureji in East Delhi, and Park Circus, Kolkata, and all the other dots in the Indian map which are spreading like a thousand flowers in bloom and a thousand schools of thought in a spectrum of colours, silences, slogans, poems, graffiti, photographs, slogans, short films, paintings, symphonies, songs, theatre, street plays, and speeches with the tricolour fluttering all over India, including in his own homeland, Gujarat?
What will he do if the children of India read the Preamble to the Indian Constitution again and again, and so do the people, in public spaces, because, they believe that the Indian Constitution is under threat?
And what about the lakhs out on the streets in Kota, Malerkotla, Thrissur, Gaya, Bhiwandi, Bhubaneswar, Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Ranchi? Plus, students in all the IITs and IIIMs, including at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, including the Gujarat Vidyapeeth and the Nirma University in the own backyard of Modi and Shah?
Shadab, bearded, long hair, lanky, wearing hawai chappals, walking towards Rambhakt Gopal from Jewar, a diehard Bajrangi, gun in hand. He wanted to make Shaheen Bagh, a bloody Jallianwala Bagh, a million steps ahead of the fantasy which his prophet Amit Shah wants to spread across this landscape.
What will he do with Indulekha of the Ernakulam Law College who wore the hijab and asked a simple question: So, tell me, Mr Prime Minister, how do you judge me by my clothes?
Or, Christian schoolgirls somewhere in an ancient Kerala church with the smell of the sea floating around its sublime architecture, on Christmas eve, choosing to perform the lovely midnight choirs of our shared childhood, wearing hijabs?
What if the entire nation sings that soulful melody on a cold midnight when Jesus was born and walk the streets reclaiming the nights, unafraid of your masked and armed Sanghi vigilante groups and police terror or your special fantasy of the high voltage current:
Silent night, holy
All is calm and all is bright
Round yon virgin, mother and child
Holy infant, so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace, ooh
Sleep, sleep in heaven, heavenly peace
Silent night, holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories streams from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing, alleluia
Christ the savior is born…
So what will Mr Shah do with his high voltage hate politics of electoral current when big-hearted Sikh farmers with flowing white beards land up at Shaheen Bagh will little kids in turbans in big trucks and buses with huge utensils, ready to cook ‘kheer’ with 10 quintals of pure milk brought from their own homeland and our homeland – Punjab? Will he still want to unleash terrible shivers down the intestines and taste buds of the people in the long queue, waiting for a delicious and simple meal from the Guru Nanak Lanar, rounded of with a dessert made with pure love and compassion for humanity?
Does Mr Shah understand the inner feelings of humanity? Pray, when did he last feel it in this life and times?
What will Amit Shah do with that little Hindu school girl — does it really matter if she is Hindu or Christian or Buddhist or Parsi? – who comes with a cardboard carton of biscuits for the protesters? So what will happen if the ‘current’, Amit Shah’s favoured fantasy, passes through that cardboard box of biscuits?
So what will he do with that little local girl who offers a banana to a visiting filmmaker at Shaheen Bagh? The filmmaker told her that she has had one banana and just cannot have another one. So the little girl scolded her, and said, “Take it. Eat it. In front of me!”
Or, that little Hindu school girl — does it really matter if she is Hindu or Christian or Buddhist or Parsi? – who comes with a cardboard carton of biscuits for the protesters and visitors. Some people dip the biscuits in sweet, hot tea, also part of the collective kitchen, and you mix it with the sweet smile of this little angel, and this is heaven on earth, right here, in Shaheen Bagh. May God bless her, you murmur, and may all your dreams come true, and may she be safe and happy all the time.
So what will happen if the current, Amit Shah’s favoured fantasy, passes through that cardboard box of biscuits?
There are many historic images of January 30, 2020 in Delhi which will stay embedded in the nation and world’s consciousness. There are many images from this great non-violent freedom movement which will eternally remain embedded in the nation and world’s consciousness for all time to come.
For instance, young Ayesha Renna from Kerala protecting Shaheen from being brutally assaulted by the Delhi police in Jamia. Her spectacled defiance, one finger pointing at the cops, is a moment so brave that even this blood-thirsty and prejudiced police of Amit Shah had to retreat.
Or, Ayeshi Ghosh, JNUSU president, frail, her head smashed by the iron rods of the masked goons of ABVP protected by Amit Shah’s cops, blood dripping all over her face. She: brave, resilient, coherent, unwavering, unafraid. Or, a woman in hijab, the national flag engraved on her face, her infant strapped to her body, a water bottle in one hand, the mike in another, leading the mass symphony of the nation-wide slogan in Lucknow: Hum lekar rahenge… Azaadi.. tum kuch bhi karlo.. Azaadi…
Ideally, as trained cops do routinely all over the world with psychopaths and terrorists, including religious fundamentalists running amok with guns, is shoot them at first sight, on the spot, no time wasted, so that he does not continue the killing spree. And what did the cops do in Delhi, and were there orders from the home ministry under which they operate?
January 30, Martyrs Day, Jamia, Delhi, 2020.
Shadab, bearded, young, long hair, thin and lanky, wearing hawai chappals, walking towards Rambhakt Gopal from Jewar, a diehard Bajrangi and Hindutva fanatic who loves both Modi and Shah who are clearly his role models, gun in hand. He wanted to make Shaheen Bagh, a bloody Jallianwala Bagh, a million steps ahead of the high voltage fantasy which his prophet Amit Shah wants to spread across this landscape of peaceful resistance led by mothers and sisters and the young.
Did he actually follow the call by Anurag Thakur ? Desh ke gaddaro ko.. goli maaro saalo ko.
Yes, he did.
The other images are equally striking.
One is of course the Delhi police, watching spellbound, in lazy hallucination, as if fixated or drugged, as the Bajrangi fanatic waved his gun and shouted insane nonsense. Ideally, as trained cops do routinely all over the world with psychopaths and terrorists, including religious fundamentalists running amok with guns, is shoot them at first sight, on the spot, on the dot, no time wasted, no argument or warning, so that he does not kill or continue the killing spree. And what did the highly motivated cops do in Delhi, and were there orders straight from the Union home ministry under which they operate?
One was listening to a phone call. Two were recording videos. One was leaning lazily on his lathi. Others were generally gallivanting, enjoying the ‘tamasha’, even as Shadab walked up to the potential mass murderer. At this moment, this brave Kashmiri student not only defied the entire military occupation in Kashmir, the abrogation of Article 370 and the demonization and occupation of Kashmir, he also decisively rejected the NRC/CAA, and the politics of Sanghi violence and masculine arrogance with his courageous non-violence.
The other image is Shadab, hand bleeding profusely, being held by his tormented female classmate in MCRC first year, Jamia (where I have taught). The cops, predictably, refused to lift the barricades. So there he was, bleeding, his blood like all human blood, turning the yellow of the police barricades red, as he tried crossing it to go to the hospital.
Wrote Pablo Neruda:
Come and see the blood on the streets…
Come and see the blood on the streets…
Come and see the blood on the streets..
The final image.
Like cinema, flashback forward. Timepast as timepresent as timefuture.
Across the same barricade, with hundreds of armed cops on the other side as reinforcement facing a backlash, Jamia students protesting, flying tricolours and the portrait of Mahatma Gandhi in hand, angry, in angst and, yet, observing collective and total non-violence!
Indeed, Gandhi would be proud. Stoic and infinite non-violence versus violence, always, is more steadfast, solid, stoic, steady and serene.
As steadfast, steady, stoic, solid and serene – like Shaheen Bagh.
But, who can explain this to Mr Amit Shah?