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Sunday 31 May 2020

Sharjeel Imam spooks Shaheen Bagh squatters

Shaheen Bagh demonstrators distancing their show from Sharjeel Imam is reminiscent of the 2016 tactic by communists when they raised the national flag for the first time since their inception in India in the 1920s

Hindus must live on the terms set by Muslims; Assam must be separated and Indian Army not allowed to reach the state, Sharjeel Imam had said in a speech last week. While his pipedream may never come true, three cases of sedition against him already stare him in the face. And if he wears that as a badge of honour, even his fellow religionists now want no more of him.

While Delhi Police registered a case against Sharjeel Imam who hogged news headlines for the past two days for his pitch for an Islamic India, with Assam separated from the country and Hindus living on terms set by Muslims, activists in the protests of Shaheen Bagh issued a statement on Saturday night saying that they had no leader and that they had nothing to do with Sharjeel Islam.

The operative part of the statement read, “The protest has been led by the women of Shaheen Bagh and it is unfair to associate their voice with any distorted media narrative. We urge everyone to not be influenced by conflicting narratives of any single individual being the ‘mastermind’ of Shaheen Bagh or any claims made of representing this non-partisan citizen’s movement.”

26 January is the 43rd day of the squatting protest at Shaheen Bagh. A large number of women have been staying put on the thoroughfare all this while.

Reminiscent of communists in 2016 who felt the compulsion of carrying the national flag in their processions for the first time since their inception in India after the Umar Khalid’s “tukde-tukde” episode, a large number of activists at Shaheen Bagh today celebrated the Republic Day after hoisting the tricolour.

Multiple Twitter handles claiming to represent the activists ‘officially’ tweeted, “We dissolve ourselves from any such narratives and establish yet again that there is no organising committee at Shaheen Bagh, no leader, not any one particular organiser.”

“The protest at Shaheen Bagh is to protect the constitutional morality of this nation. No one individual’s videos, statements or articles can represent the movement,” they said on Twitter.

Searching with parts of the statement as the keywords on Twitter yielded at least three different handles among the results that claimed they were the official representatives of the squatters: “Shaheen Bagh Official” (@Shaheenbaghoff1), “ShaheenBagh Protestors official” (@Shaheenbag) and “Shaheen Bagh Protest (Official)” (@ShaheenBaghPrts).

Meanwhile, police informed the media that Sharjeel hailed from Bihar. In the video that went viral after BJP spokesman Sambit Patra shared it on Twitter, he can be heard exhorting people to separate Assam from India and opposing the CAA and NRC. A source in Delhi Police said, “He had delivered a similar speech in Jamia Milia Islamia earlier. His speeches are going to spoil communal harmony.”

In the viral video, Sharjeel is heard saying, “Assam should be cut off from the rest of India. Spread the word that the government is killing both Hindus and Muslims in Assam or keeping them in detention centres. We must mobilise five lakh and Assam can be separated from India for a few months.”

Cases have been registered against Sharjeel Imam under Sections 124A, 153A and 505 of IPC in Delhi, Aligarh and Assam.

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