All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi on Wednesday raised suspicions that the government will use force against protestors at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh after the Assembly elections in the city-state, reported ANI. Assembly elections in Delhi will be held on February 8, and the results will be declared on February 11.
Shaheen Bagh has emerged as a centre of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and the proposed National Register of Citizens. Hundreds of women have been peacefully protesting at Shaheen Bagh since December 15, against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch in the Capital has been closed since December 15 after protesters occupied the road.
“Might be they will shoot them,” Owaisi told ANI over phone from Hyderabad. “They might turn Shaheen Bagh into Jallianwala Bagh. This might happen. A BJP minister gave a statement to ‘shoot a bullet’. The government must give an answer as [to] who is radicalising.” The Jallianwala Bagh massacre happened on April 13, 1919, in Amritsar when Punjab’s Lieutenant Governor Michael O’Dwyer ordered his men to open fire at unarmed civilians taking part in a peaceful protest.
Union minister Anurag Thakur had on Tuesday said the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest site in Shaheen Bagh would be cleared once the Bharatiya Janata Party comes to power after the February 8 Assembly elections. Last week, Thakur had been banned from campaigning for three days for leading the crowd at a rally in a chant urging that “traitors be shot”. “Desh ke gaddaron ko,” he had shouted, as the crowd responded, “goli maro saalon ko”. Since Thakur’s speech, three shooting incidents near protest sites in Delhi have been reported.
The Bharatiya Janata Party has attempted to portray the upcoming Delhi elections as a referendum on the ongoing protests, particularly at Shaheen Bagh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, too, had hit out at the Shaheen Bagh protest. Modi had called the protests a “conspiracy”, where the real agenda is being obscured by using the tricolour and the Constitution as symbols.
Owaisi also spoke about the National Population Register and the proposed National Register of Citizens, and said the two moves reminded him of Hitler’s rule.
“The government must give a clear cut answer that till 2024 NRC will not be implemented,” said the AIMIM chief. “Why are they spending Rs 3,900 crore for NPR? I feel this way because I was a history student. Hitler during his reign conducted the census twice and after that, he pushed the Jews in a gas chamber. I don’t want our country [to] go in that way.”
The NRC is a proposed exercise to identify undocumented immigrants. However, its critics fear that the Citizenship Amendment Act, clubbed with the National Register of Citizens, will be misused to target Muslims since the Citizenship Act now has religion as a criterion. After protests began in December, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said there had been no discussions on nationwide NRC.
The National Population Register is a list of “usual residents”. “Usual residents” are those who have stayed at a place for six months or intend to stay there for the next six months.
As first reported by Scroll.in, the NPR is the first step to creating an all-India National Register of Citizens, which would identify undocumented migrants residing in India. This has led to scepticism from states ruled by parties that are not part of the National Democratic Alliance. Till now, West Bengal and Kerala have suspended all work related to the NPR, while five Congress-ruled states are mulling similar action.