The massive victory of AAP, the defeat of BJP, and the uprooting of Congress in the Delhi election, at this juncture, bring us again to the paramount question, unattended by our modernist scholars, intellectuals and politicians: the discrepancy between the stately discourses of election and the non-stately and radical discourses of insurrection or liberation. For example, a victory in the electoral game might be interpreted at times as a defeat in terms of the non-stately, game of insurrection. Or, in our context, one can also say that the BJP had already won the game by confining the AAP politics exclusively to ‘welfare activities’ and making it keep silence on primal political matters.

Anyway, the people who strategically kept aloof from the Shaheen Bagh protests have won the game. Whatever it may be, the defeat of BJP in the election could be seen as the clear verdict of the people against the anti-constitutional acts of the Narendra Modi government. The victory of AAP has put a halt to the triumphant march of BJP in the electoral front. In that sense, this is a slight advancement in the existing conditions. If we term it as a victory, then we will have to qualify it as conditioned and constrained.  

Silence as a political statement: While the AAP cadres were joyously celebrating their hard-won victory on February 11, the decision of the protesters in Shaheen Bagh was to hold a silent protest. They covered their mouth with black bands and held placards to symbolically announce their distance with electoral politics.  

Silence become an imperative when words can be twisted or hijacked by the party, politicians or media. The message it conveys is that the Shaheen Bagh struggle has nothing to do with party politics. “We don’t want anyone to get the wrong message today. We won’t allow either the victors or the losers to manipulate us,” somebody explained.  

Silence here is a gesture, a political statement. Silence not as a sign of enmity or protest, but something that goes beyond them, marking a genuine gesture of singularity, self-difference, dissonance, dissent, distance, a sign of their non-belonging to the stately game of election. It also signals that there is no compromise, no adjustment, no pact with the stately players, no retreat from the ongoing struggle. A non-verbal, yet, more intensive declaration that the struggle would go on without any stately or party-political mediation or compulsion.

The question is whether we would choose the powers of life, love, freedom, joy, creation, becoming and metamorphosis, or the powers of war, terror, death and the universal cataclysm offered by the war machine?

Moreover, this would also reveal to us that the protesters of Shaheen Bagh have already sensed the political and philosophical question of the incommensurability between the stately narrative of election and their non-stately (and sublime) narratives of protest and liberation. Silence marks this sense of breech, this gulf that envelopes the two radically different narratives at clash.

Dissonance with the stately games of electoral politics: The eventful course of the anti CAA/NRC agitation, and the experiment of Shaheen Bagh, has reached another decisive stage, another turn, with the commencement of elections in Delhi this month. The feverish discourses of the election had already put to the fore the incongruity between the radical democratic experimentation of Shaheen Bagh with the stately modes of electoral politics that reduced citizens into numbers and vote banks.

No wonder that the crucial political issues raised by the anti-CAA/NRC agitations, the prime issues of the violation of the principles of Constitution, the sacking of Kashmir, the partitioning and polarising of society in terms of religion, caste and race, by the BJP government, as it is designed in the laws of CAA/NRC/ NPR and others, the issue of citizenship, the issue of poverty, of the State-sponsored economic slowdown, farmer’s suicides, the brutal violence unleashed by the BJP governments and their police in UP and other places against the protesters, could never come up as valid issues to be considered in the electoral scenario.

To AAP, these issues were diversions that would turn the focus of electoral politics away from the developmental and welfare themes offered by them and thus adversely affect their electoral prospects.

Shaheen Bagh was visible in the election scenario in a negative way in the form of a ghetto of “demons, devils, traitors, Pakistanis, anarchists and aliens” who pose a potential threat to national security and therefore should be evacuated or eliminated. It was used by the Modi brigand as a weapon to polarise the Hindu-Muslim votes, and reap profit out of it as the last resort.

The message it conveys is that the Shaheen Bagh struggle has nothing to do with party politics. ‘We don’t want anyone to get the wrong message today. We won’t allow either the victors or the losers to manipulate us,’ somebody explained.  

AAP leaders, being staunch ‘developmentalists’ and ‘welfarists’, distanced themselves from this ‘chaos’ and ‘anarchy’, in order, not to be monsterised  by BJP, but also to woo the Hindu votes, the most precious thing in this election.

Once again, it is ascertained that the radical discourses of protest and resistance are incommensurable to the stately discourses of representative democracy. It is by sidelining this fundamental politico-philosophical questions that our journalists, intellectuals and historians usually talk of the capacity of a movement to translate its strength into votes. They judge the failure or victory of radical democratic movements on the basis of the degrees of their actualisation in representative, electoral politics.

On the contrary, the paramount question of democracy is how to radically translate, or reconstitute the parliamentary or representative democracy in terms of the truths, values or energies produced by the radical insurgences. Amusingly, what happened here in Delhi was a reverse process. AAP could successfully translate the narrative of Shaheen Bagh and anti-CAA/NRC struggles in terms of the stately narrative of elections and convert the intensities produced by these insurgences into votes. This was a master-stroke of Arvind Kejriwal, the stately player par excellence.   

A week before the polling, the protesters of Shaheen Bagh replied to the queries of journalists: they said that they were not bothered about the electoral prospects. That the ultimate goal of the agitation was not any electoral victory. That they were fighting for the restoration of the Indian Constitution, democracy and the restoration of citizen’s rights.

These political statements reveal that more than a protest, the present struggle is an experimentation of bringing into existence a new non-stately collective, an affective confederation of multiple nationalities, religions (often the displacement of the former) cultures, communities, Dalits, minorities and minors, as it is being exemplarily brought out in Shaheen Bagh.  

Each protester seems to say, without words, but, with their committed acts:

Here on, we shed our constituted subjectivity in order to be the constituent subject. We would never show our documents to the State. Instead, it is the duty of the State to show us their documents, their credentials. It is the people who delegate their sovereign power to the State and not vice versa. The citizens have the right to take back the power robbed by the State and so on.”

These silent utterances confirm our proposition that the Shaheen Bagh mode of politics is an open revolt against the war machine of the BJP/RSS. And that at the same time, it also refuses to come to terms with any forms of stately regimes, whether it is the welfare mode of State as avowed by  Kejriwal or the secular neo-liberal state offered by the Congress, or the socialistic or semi-totalitarian state offered by the neo-liberal communists. Yet, the protesters knew how to discriminate the war machine from the State machine and how to make rapport with the politicians who oppose the Modi-regime, provided they shed their party, political and stately preoccupations.

We would never show our documents to the State. Instead, it is the duty of the State to show us their documents, their credentials. It is the people who delegate their sovereign power to the State and not vice versa. The citizens have the right to take back the power robbed by the State and so on’.

A conceptual revolution: Shaheen Bagh disrupts all of our modernist, statist and enlightenment notions of the State, the nation, sovereignty, secularism, and democracy. It challenges the constants of representative or majoritarian democracy.

It questions the principles of dialectics and the Hegelian notions of the State. It puts forward a new synthesis, which can be called a connective synthesis([i]) — in Deleuzian terms. It brings down the idea of the ‘Infinite’ into the worldly or historical plane. It brings opposites, differences and dissonances into heterogeneous unities. It is a composition of collective singularities or singular collectives.

The New Independence Struggle, with Shaheen Bagh as its nucleus, could not be typified as a mere repetition or extension of the first independence movement. It should rather be estimated as the reinvention of a new mode of freedom struggle marked by its minoritarian([ii]), multi-nationalitarian and feminine thrust.

The transformation of the State into a war machine: The question then is, what binds the hands of opposition party leaders to give their whole-hearted support to the Shaheen Bagh protest, the fulcrum of the anti-CAA/NRC agitation in India and to raise it as the crucial political issue in the electoral contest?

Hereby we come to the politico-philosophical question of incommensurability. All of our political parties are genetically constituted by the stately game of elections, of the representative or majoritarian democracy, which is the most alienated form of democracy. Even though these parties may oppose each other, all of them subscribe to the basic game-rules of stately politics. They have programmed themselves to internalise the State. Their ultimate aim is to win the elections and grab the stately powers.

This may be the crucial factor that inhibits the Congress, AAP and Left parties from openly forming a united front against the Modi-State, even though the latter has metamorphosed into a full-fledged war machine([iii]). The horrible example of Kashmir is before them, before us. The sense of urgency instructs us that ‘this is the time to act, to unite, at this juncture of crisis. Otherwise all would be doomed’.

Politicians cannot hold this absolute wisdom which inherently inspired the mother-leaders of Shaheen Bagh to leave their homes and sit in protest, day and night, till the law is revoked. No doubt there are wise and competent leaders among the opposition parties who are brilliant, imaginative and crafty in the stately art of electoral politics and are well-versed in dealing with other stately contestants. But, here, something beyond measure has invaded the people like a cataclysm: the war machine has taken charge of the State and put the whole people as hostages. Being stately actors, the opposition parties lack the courage, conviction and wisdom to stand up to the gigantic war machine that steers the Modi-State.

The war machine doesn’t wait for constitutional and administrative processes, for consensus, discussion and debate, or parliamentary procedures. It is inherently impatient, reckless, and mad.

It operates on the lines of flight, on the flows of desire and faith, though in a negative way. It doesn’t believe in the workability of democracy. It not only makes war its mode of operation, but also divides the whole country in terms of the war of races, communities and selves and disseminates wars to produce votes out of them.

It makes its “smooth space” operative by smashing the democratic frameworks, processes and ideals of the Constitution. It works on the dark passions, and reactive or negative effects. It straightly poisons discourses, thoughts, dreams, languages modes of communication and interaction of the people. Its tongue is as disastrous and venomous as its arsenals.

It spreads paranoia, and pushes toxics into the nervous system. It offers state-sponsored deaths, partitions, detention centers, riots, wars and surgical strikes to the people of India.

The Centre has already transformed the state governments into vassals by trying to rob their constitutional rights and autonomy, reducing their powers and shares, by the imposition of new, stringent laws, suffocating them through the controls on their economy, cuts in budget allocations, through political interventions and monopolisation of the information networks. Most of the states are now demoted to the status of Kashmir, though, in an indirect way. Most of them have been in effect reduced to the status of union territories.

Delhi has already been partially ‘Kashmirised’ without any new ordinances or laws, without violence but through the hegemonic narratives of ‘Strong Nation, Strong Centre to avenge Pakistani terrorism’, ‘Muslims as the others, traitors, devils and demons who are dangerous to the nation and therefore be punished or exterminated’ and so on.

The powerful impact of these hyper-national narratives on the political scenario of Delhi may be gauged by the tutored silences and negative phrases manoeuvered by the opposition parties, mainly AAP, on the issue of Kashmir, anti CAA/NRC agitations, and the Shaheen Bagh non-violent struggle. It shows that even though the BJP was defeated in the Delhi polls, they have already won in de-politicising the campaign and getting rid of the crucial issues from the chief agenda of the elections.

Keep away from Shaheen Bag: This was the warning given by the Modi-Shah duo to the oppositional parties. Modi-Shah could succeed in confining the campaign of AAP exclusively to welfare politics and forcing it to surrender the crucial political decisions to the Centre. The Centre has already proved that it has the proficiency to silence and control the chief ministers without putting them under house arrest. An exemplary instance would be the way it tied the hands of the chief minister of Kerala, the tough and the unyielding leader of the CPM, by trapping him in the vicious networks of police officials.

The little state machines of the Congress, AAP, CPM, Trinamool Congress and others in that sense could not stand up to the monstrous war machine of the Modi State. However, the Shaheen Bagh event has sabotaged the whole equations of the electoral narratives of power and success. It has de-territorialised the electoral game of the Modi-regime, and disrupted its command centers. The Shaheen Bagh struggle is the silent and secret reservoir of power([iv]) (against power) and love that has raised Indian politics to a sublime level. It has shattered the constants of majoritarian democracy.

The war machine doesn’t wait for constitutional and administrative processes, for consensus, discussion and debate, or parliamentary procedures. It is inherently impatient, reckless, and mad.

Consequently, the movement has also opened up new vistas to the opposition parties, thereby increasing their credence in their uneven contest with the majoritarian regime. The Shaheen Bagh mode of politics has pushed the electoral game from its central position to a secondary, subsidiary, or supplementary position with regard to the crucial event of the insurgency.

Indian politics, hereon, would be defined, decided and led by the eventual eruptions of the non-stately modes of politics. Now onwards, the democratic politics, at its core, would be redefined as the subversive act of the ‘Constitution’, rather than the regressive act of being constituted as a stately subject.

The trans-history of love machines: Let us now come to the non-stately actors, like students, mothers, women, Dalits, minoritarians and minors who came forward to arrest the war machine. I would call them the ‘love machines’, slightly modifying the Deleuzean concept of the war machine.

In his path-breaking thesis, Deleuze places the war machine in radical exteriority to the State. It is traced to be originally invented by the nomads in order to counter-attack and shatter the forces of the State. But, later, it comes to terms with the State and war, and deviates from its original function of crushing the State.

Either the war machine internalises the State or the State internalises the war machine; the pact with the State makes a split in the function and goal of the war machine. At this point, it turns against itself, puts war as its ultimate object. It allies with the State, its archaic enemy, and thereafter devours the State and finally metamorphoses itself into a huge world war machine.

This is the second order of mutation of the war machine marking the regression and reversal of the original war machine which never prioritised war. Unfortunately, Deleuze puts the trans-history of the war machine as incomplete. Paul Patton has suggested the use of the term mutative machine instead of war machine which smacks of war.

I would, however, attempt to mark the occurrence of a third order mutation with respect to the war machine. It would mark the absolute evacuation of the idea of war and death from the mutative machine. Here, I would use the term love machine to designate the mutant form of the war machine which is drawn by the intensive effects like love and joy.

By using this term I am not simply renaming the war machine as Patton does it exemplarily, in his case, but naming a new event of the mutation of the mutation, a double mutation of the original war-machine. It is not just a question of relegating war to a supplementary or subsidiary position as Deleuze would propose, but a question of warding off war totally from the mutative machine not only in theory, but also in flesh and blood.

Moreover, it is a question of differentiating the upturned war machine, which has now multiplied into so many war machines, for example, the world war machines of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and others, and their secret combinations (the second order war machines) from the mutant forms of mutative machines which we call love machines. The active effect of love is the power that not only mutates the war machine but also capacitates the mutant machines or the love machines to surround, storm and crush the war machine.

Infinite powers of the Love Machine: The crucial encounters take place in the streets and squares where the love machines assemble to confront, arrest and crush the war machine of Hindutva. If the non-stately politics of Shaheen Bagh has been able to suspend the mega power of the war machine State, at least for the time being, what does it implicate, from where does this enormous energy and courage arrive among this middle class mothers and sisters?

It implicates the infinite powers of the love machines, being, in essence, the transmutations of the primordial war machine which was exterior to the State. It implicates the resurgence of the immanent and infinitive powers of the people over and against the negative and transcendental powers of the gigantic war machine (which is remotely tied to the global war machine of the global empire).

Shaheen Bagh is composed of great hope: Mothers, grandmothers, sisters, minors, youths, students, Dalits, the minorised Muslims, Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Christians, artists, and so on. They operate in the lines of flight, conjoin the unbounded flows of desire, love and faith, and carve out a plane of consistency, a smooth space and reclaims a new earth.

The only logical option before the opposition, whether they win or lose in the elections, is to de-stratify themselves, to de-territorialise themselves, to join the non-violent bands or troupes of the love machines, the desiring machines, that are set to invent a new event, to invent a new India, or Indias, over and against the hyper-nationalist, communal and majoritarian regime of Hindutva. Either you join this historic struggle which is set to unmask and ultimately smash the insatiable war machine lurking behind the necro-politics of Hinudtva, or you perish.


Festive re-union of nationalities, communities and faiths: The prominent figures of opposition, mainly the top leaders of AAP and Congress, kept out of the Shaheen Bagh struggle, perhaps fearing the backlash from the Modi regime or to strategically mobilise the Hindu votes. But, something different or eventual happened in the other pole, that is, the non-stately pole of the protesters.

The non-stately, minoritarian actors, did come to offer solidarity, support and security to Shaheen Bagh. A week before the Delhi polls, in the context of the protesters being threatened by various gunmen, Sikh farmers, civil society and political leaders, human right activists, social and religious activists from Punjab, came by buses, to offer security and physical support to the protesters, to safeguard the dreams of a resurgent India from being smashed by a Fascist State. 

The heroic and affectionate welcome given to the Sikh farmers and their families (February 5, 2020) by the nanis, dadis, wives, sisters and daughters of Shaheen Bagh, by hugging and embracing, marked the festive and warm re-union of two different nationalities, communities, faiths and cultures. It marked the epochal coming together of heterogeneous communities at this crucial juncture.

It reminded us of the eventual scene of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad declaring the Dailt’s love and solidarity with the cause of the Muslims, reading the Constitution on the steps of the historic Jama Masjid in Old Delhi in front of thousands of people. Azad’s words rang like a proposal of love and liberation between two minorities, two nationalities, two faiths, suppressed and victimised by the Hinduthva regime: Muslims and Dalits.

The arrival of the Sikh farmers, their families, Khalsa and human rights activists from Punjab marked another re-union, another nuptial of two minoritarian communities, or nationalities: the Muslims and the Sikhs. These political gestures of love, respect and solidarity have generated a zone of joy and trust around Shaheen Bagh. The presence of the Sikhs has boosted the morale of the protestors and provided a minoritarian dimension to the ongoing struggle.

Muslims, Sikhs, Dalits, Hindus, Christians, Parsis and others are joining together, mutually strengthening and safeguarding each other, at these junctures of crisis.  Shaheen Bagh has become an eventual site, multiplying itself, evolving and transmuting itself with each eruptions of event.

The words of the Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal addressed to the protesters of Shaheen Bagh were radiant with love and political wisdom: “While the government is attempting to scare you, we are here to assure you that this is part of State terrorism. We complement you for your sagacity and patience in the last 51 days. The Muslim community has risen out of the phoenix and the Indian State is bamboozled, not knowing how to react” (World Sikh News (WSN), Feb 16, 2020).

The political love is conjoined with the godly love (in Spinozian terms) in these non-stately and non-violent arena/altar/theatre of streets and squares, the epicentres of the new freedom movements as we see in the cases of various Shaheena Baghs all over the country.  The brave and sublime words of Jagmohan Singh, human rights activist and WSN editor, carried the minoritarian truth of Shaheen Bagh’s politics: “You are not alone in this hour of crisis. It is time for all minorities to come together and counter this campaign of hate in an united manner. It is not for us to prove our credentials. They are in the dock. They have to prove that they respect the principles of natural justice and the Indian Constitution in letter and spirit.”

These are the revolutionary statements of the emergent minoritarian politics, radically different from the majoritarian statements of the minorities trapped in the stately games.

The trans-history of love machines: Multiple lines of flight that escape the capture of the State converge in the protest square. The flows of faith and love gather up to form vortices that would surround and swallow the powers of the State and the superior powers of the war machine. This is a heterogeneous assemblage of the love machines or the mutative machines which are proficient enough to withstand the magical powers of the war machine. The love machines know the inherent weaknesses of the war machine, by heart.  

To tell the genealogy or the trans-history of the love machine, it originates from the same source of effects, intensities and desires that breed the war machine except that the love machine marks the absolute mutation of the war-machine, and it affirms the active effects of love and joy. Not only do they redeem the primordial power of the war machine by subtracting war from it, but it launches an adventurous combat with the paranoiac war machine, the producer of ‘permanent wars’, ‘seasonal wars’, ‘disguised wars’, ‘final wars’, ‘wars to end all wars’, ‘wars against terror’ and so on.

The love machines, however, invent non-violent, effective, nomadic or minoritarian modes of combat in their encounter with the war machine. The war machine divides and polarizes the people in order to create infinite conditions and fields of war. The love machines, on the contrary, are inclusive, they unite, connect, they conjure up heterogeneous communities and nationalities and faiths, make them hug each other, love each other and invoke the immanent powers of the de-stratified people, the marginals, poor, Dalits, minoritaritarians, women, minors and minorised elders.

This is a machine of becomings. It induces the becoming Muslim and becoming woman of Indian politics and at the same time, the becoming political of Muslims and women. It plays out the becoming Muslim of the Hindu, Christian, or Sikh, and at the same time the becoming Hindu, Christian or Sikh of the Muslims.

In short, it is the becoming minoritarian (not minority) of all, the Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Dalits and women and others.  What we see here is the molecular play of mutation and metamorphosis. This is what makes the Shaheen Bagh struggle an event.

This eventual play of metamorphosis or becoming can be discerned in the fanciful and theatrical forms of protests raised by groups of Hindu, Sikh, Parsi and Christian ladies wearing hijabs like Muslim women. It came as a form of protest against Modi’s provocative call to identify the protesters from their dress, thus giving a communal color to the agitation.

More than a protest, it signaled the most subversive secular act of the becoming Muslim — whether they are Hindus, Christians, or Parsees, Sikhs. Wearing hijab, the women of heterogeneous religions entered into a play of metamorphosis, trans-substantiating themselves into Muslims, thus proclaiming the alterability and fluidity of the religious identities. The protest here, thereby, metamorphoses into an act of desire.

Inter-faith prayers in Shaheen Bagh: On February 6, people from all religions offered prayers in Shaheen Bagh. The inter-religious prayers were aimed to end the atmosphere of ‘fear and violence’ that is prevailing in the country and to send out a message of communal solidarity. People from all religions — Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism and Christianity — participated in the event.

This is explained as an attempt to execute ‘sarva dharma sambhava’ (inter-faith ceremony), a concept created by Mahatma Gandhi during India’s freedom struggle to uphold peace and communal harmony. Named Jashn-e-Ekta, the prayers sought to “celebrate love, equality and unity” with a multi-faith ceremony of “mantras, hymns, kirtans and qirat… along with the slogans of azaadi and inquilaab zindabad. Shaheen Bagh also resonated with sounds of the azaanjai shri ram and jo bole so nihaal

Then begins the dramatic enactment of trans-subjectification, the play of becoming, of metamorphosis.

“Dressed in a white turban, red kurta and churidar payjama, a young man rose up at the Shaheen Bagh protest and asked, “Can you identify me by my clothes?”

The crowd replied with a resounding “No”. The man then identified himself as Sultan Sheikh. Sultan dressed up as sardar to participate in the multi-faith prayer, surrounded by the women of Shaheen Bagh.

“Can the prime minister identify me? My name is Sultan; let him put a religion or caste to my name and identify me,” he said.

Draped in a saffron sari and wearing a tika, Ruqaiya Parveen did the same, standing next to a white dhoti-clad Hindu priest, who wore a janeu (sacred thread) and a skull cap.

Modiji aap bharat ki janta se maafi maange (Modi ji, you should apologise to the people of India),” said the priest who identified himself as Sant Yuvraj. “Did a skull cap bring down my social status? Am I not a Hindu anymore? And if today Sultan wore a turban, did he stop being a Muslim?” he asked. (Furquan Ameen, The Telegraph-Online Edition, Sunday, February16, 2020)

Sant Yuvraj proclaimed the intention of this collective prayer : “We are doing this for the unity and solidarity of the country. All religions are united here. No one should consider Shaheen Bagh as a demonstration of Muslims. Sikh people are chanting Gurbani here while Christians are reading the Bible along with Muslims who are reading ‘aayats‘ from the Quran and I am performing a ‘havan‘ as a Hindu sant. Even this ‘havan‘ has been organised by all the people irrespective of their religion.”

The Shaheen Bagh resistance is evolving, incessantly metamorphosing, doubling, multiplying, spreading inwards and outwards like a contagion. It has de-territorialised not only the religious faiths of Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and others, but has also devastated the modernistic strictures of Indian secularism that excluded and demonised faith and desire. It replaced the negative secularism of modernity by the affective and affirmative mode of intensive secularism.

It has invented a new political spirituality, a new resurgence, a new renaissance. It has made streets into the constituent assemblies of the minors, minoritarians, women, Dalits, and everyone suppressed and marginalised by the State and assaulted by the war machine which superseded the State. It has also de-territorialised the games of representative democracy and electoral politics by minorising, minoritising, feminising, and Dalitaising Indian politics.

Here lies the liberating power of love and life against the repressive powers of the State and the war machine.

We are in a new epoch: We don’t know what would happen tomorrow. Or, the day after tomorrow. Would the State aided by the court evacuate the protestors in the name of mythical inconveniences for blocking a small section of a public road? Or, in the name of the ‘would be’ chaos and anarchy in society; or, in the guise of sedition and treason, that it attributes to everyone who opposes its command?  

However, the resurgent people of India must acknowledge that it is the students, mothers and sisters of Shaheen Bagh who have put to halt the triumphant march of the war machine of Hindutva. It is Shaheen Bagh that has saved the Indian Constitution, democracy and the people of India by blocking the advances of a frustrated death machine, which strives to divide, partition and detain the people, turning the whole nation into a war zone. This is the nerve center of the event that transformed the protests against CAA/NRC, to the level of a pan- Indian freedom struggle, a world historic event, a sublime democratic experiment. It is the continuous and consistent non-violent struggle of the protesters that goes on uninterrupted, day and night, for more than two months,

braving the chilly nights of winter and the threat by the police and goons of BJP, that reminds us that we are in the midst of a great event of liberation; we are in a new epoch.

Subsequently, any attempt to use force against the protesters would be defeated by the united force of the Indian people in a non-violent manner. The only political option for us, who value the struggle as the final attempt to reclaim the democratic rights of citizens to live in this country peacefully, their right to protest, to constitute a new India, is to produce as many Shaheen Baghs (as Chandrashekhar Azad proclaimed) all over India, to surround and vanquish the war machine.

And that is happening everywhere in India. New Shaheen Baghs are rising up everywhere, every day, all over India. It is multiplying, widening and intensifying. The infinite non-violent powers are directed against the monstrous powers of the war machine. The iminent powers of life and love converge there to ward off the finite, transcendental and destructive powers of the State and the war machine.  

The question is whether we would choose the powers of life, love, freedom, joy, creation, becoming and metamorphosis, or the powers of war, terror, death and the universal cataclysm offered by the war machine?

The protesters invent each day new forms or genres of expression that would bring forth the eventual dimensions of the struggle. Theatre, art, poetry, songs, video films, graffiti, wall paintings, wall writings, speeches, silences, prayers, langars, music concerts: all converge here to form a new language, a new genre that articulate the political statements of the protesters without violating their ‘eventness’, without violating the law of incommensurability, without translating the event into the majoritarian language of power and the stately game of electoral politics.

February 14. Valentine’s Day. The dadis of Shaheen Bagh invited the prime minister to attend their festival of love and talk to them: “PM Modi, please come to Shaheen Bagh, collect your gift and talk to us.”

The Muslims celebrated the Valentine’s Day as the day of political love, conjoined with godly love, and with all sorts of love. This celebration of love is an open revolt against the patriarchal regime of morality that attempts to crush the power of love, the ethics of love. Shaheen Bagh invents the historical or political romance, the genre of love letter or love song as the most subversive weapon available for the people in this life and death struggle.

 A weapon that can pierce the powers of State and the war machine without the means of war, without any violence.

Dr K.Vinod Chandran retired as Head, Department of History, Sree Kerala Varma College, Thrissur. A former researcher in JNU, he has published articles in Malayalam and English on topics related to History and Literature and Philosophy. He is currently working on a book, The Historical Romance of Thiruvithamcoor.


[i]. Connective synthesis differs from the ‘either’ or option of the Kantian synthesis and the dialectical synthesis of Hegel which displaces differences into opposites. It proposes multiple options and multiple connections, infinite progression of ‘or’ ‘or’ ‘or’. “In contrast to the alternative of the “either/or” exclusions, there is the “either…or…or of the combinations and permutations where the differences amount to the same without ceasing to be differences.” Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus (Bloomsbury, London, 2013(p.87).

[ii] The term ‘minoritarian’ as used by Deleuze has to be differentiated from the term minority as it is usually used in our context. First of all, minor, or minority, is defined here not in terms of its small number but by an event of becoming that separates it from the majoritrian regime. Secondly, it is a non-undenumerable set, or multiplicities of escape and flux (Deleuze and Guattari A Thousand Plateaus, (Continuum, London, 2005), p.518-520. An important point made by Delueze in relation to the minorities is that they recreate the ‘nationalitarian’ phenomena that the ‘nation-states had been charged with controlling and quashing.  “The majoriatarian as a constant and homogeneous system; minorities as subsystems; and the minoritarian as a potential, creative, and created, becoming. “All becoming is minoritarian,” defines Deleuze.

[iii]  Deleuze’s path-breaking concept of the war machine has nothing to do with war. It was invented by the nomads in order to counter-attack and defeat the states. Primarily, it is a mutative machine that produces becoming and metamorphosis. But later on, allied with the State’s war machine and is metamorphosed into a war producing world war machine, going against itself to a mission of death and destruction. A Thousand Plateaus p.387- 467.  Achille Mbembe, a prominent African thinker, uses the term ‘war machine’ in order to notify the states in Africa, and North-east — those that combine war and violence with politics. But he doesn’t give importance to the primordial form of the war machine which had nothing to do with wars and the possibilities of their mutation in the present times that would enable it to withstand the world war machine .(Achille Mbembe, ‘Necro-politics’ in Bio-politics — A Reader ed. Thimothy Campbell and Adam Sitze, (Duke University Press-Durham and London, 2013)p.161-173. 

[iv]  The single term ‘power’ in English is insufficient to convey the two distinct senses of the concept of power. The Latin terms used by Spinoza, potestas, and potential, have distinct correlates in Italian (potere and potenza), in French (pouvoir and puissance). So in English in order to convey the two senses of power, distinction is made through capitalisation, rendering ‘potestas’ as ‘power’ and ‘potentia’ as ‘power’. The small letter, power signifies the immanent potentiality to create and metamorphose. In Negri’s works, power denotes the centralised, mediating, transcendental force of command, whereas power is the local, immediate, actual force of the Constitution;  Michael Hardt, in the forward of The Savage AnomalyThe Power of Spinoza’s Metaphysics and Politics, (University of Minnesota Press Minneapolis 1991) p.xiii.

Lead picture by Nitika Kakkar

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The resurgent people of India must acknowledge that it is the students, mothers and sisters of Shaheen Bagh who have put to halt the triumphant march of the war machine of Hindutva. It is Shaheen Bagh that has saved the Indian Constitution
Shaheen Bagh: A Running Epic of Liberation