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Natural Consequence

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The Shaheen Bagh protest continues to be the standard-bearer for the anti-CAA protests across the country. Its embers sparked off the violence witnessed in Delhi on Monday. The Delhi Police are being blamed for their inability to curb the trouble-makers either through pre-emptive or proactive measures. The cost has been paid in terms of a dead head constable and six other fatalities. Another police officer is reportedly in serious condition. Unfortunately, the violence has not triggered any remorse among those involved and trouble continued into Tuesday.

Shaheen Bagh remains untouched by police action simply because a very large number of those present are women and children, even babes in arms. The government and police have deliberately stayed their hand, despite the illegal nature of the occupation, because any hurt caused to these protestors would become a cause célèbre for all anti-Modi forces everywhere. Instead, they have let the matter brew – at considerable cost as was seen on Monday – so that the natural sequence of events could play itself out. Realisation has to strike the people involved in the protest that they are just being used by various forces for deeper agendas than just an exhibition of a section of society’s personal animosity towards the Prime Minister.

Even the Supreme Court’s well-meaning attempt at some kind of a negotiated settlement has not succeeded in pacifying the protestors. It remains to be seen what the judges now say regarding the request for clearing the occupied roads, but it certainly cannot uphold the illegal nature of the protest. There is no doubt that the violence was aimed at embarrassing Modi before US President Donald Trump, completely regardless of the country’s larger interests. It is possible that opposition politicians will find this acceptable, but – in the longer run – the common citizens will factor this into their thinking on the subject.

The by now ubiquitous sight of handgun toting hoodlums firing at the police was also visible in the Delhi protests and seems to have become an established modus operandi. It is difficult to find the logic behind this if the anti-CAA protests are being sought to be presented as ‘democratic’ and ‘constitutional’. Quite obviously, the participants have separate objectives, not all of them good. It is also being seen that people adversely affected by the protest are now taking to direct action, further complicating the matter. An unfortunate consequence of this will be harm to innocent people. This is why it is important for all concerned to step back and think a little. Otherwise, things will get worse before they get any better.