Why the ‘juvenile’ who fired at the anti-CAA rally in Delhi on Friday carried out the act will become known only after the police investigation. There can be all kinds of theories on the subject, but the fact that he could manage to get hold of a country made pistol indicates there are other people involved. Given the kinds of politics, nowadays, nothing can be ruled out, because there is much at stake. All the same, the incident comes as an important lesson for politicians – particularly leaders of the BJP – that speeches, particularly in the era of social media and instant transmission of information, have to be within an acceptable format. In the present case, Anurag Thakur is being squarely blamed for encouraging violence with his exhortation to ‘shoot the anti-nationals’.
There is no doubt that the anti-CAA protests are creating a nuisance in areas where public areas have been ‘occupied’ and greatly inconveniencing the local people, as in the case of ‘Shaheen Bagh’. Far from being apologetic about the trouble they are causing, the squatters are actually projecting it as a ‘democratic right’. Things have been made worse by the takeover of these protests almost entirely by what is clearly an anti-national and communal narrative. There have been no reactions as yet from the people affected by the protest, but it is only a matter of time before there is a confrontation.
People are probably hoping that the Shaheen Bagh type of protests will wind down after the Delhi assembly election. There is no doubt that one purpose of the agitation is to keep the CAA issue in the forefront and polarise voters. However, it will be the duty of the police once the electoral dust has settled to clear the blockade on the highway. Whatever methods are used, they will be far preferable to any kind of confrontation between sections of the public. And polarisation, it must be noted, works both ways. The BJP would not be too unhappy if the AAP election pitch is queered by issues that are not directly connected to who governs Delhi. As such, the verdict delivered by Delhi’s voters will clear the air on the public’s attitude towards recent events. Hopefully, the politicians will take the right lessons from it.