Wednesday, 6 July, 2022
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Pinjra Tod arrests, Delhi police witch hunt against students show Covid is not a top priority

The Delhi Police has chosen to stay active during Covid-19 by either clamping down on those who protested CAA, or by singing birthday songs for rich brats.

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At a time when Indian doctors are battling coronavirus on the frontlines, journalists are putting themselves at risk to document stories of Covid-19 and citizens are in the midst of the turmoil caused by the pandemic, the Delhi Police has chosen to engage its time and personnel by either clamping down on those who dissent or by singing birthday songs for upper-class children.

Having angered many, but surprising none, the Delhi Police Saturday arrested two young women activists from Pinjra Tod — a women-led rights collective. Its members Devangana Kalita and Natasha Narwal were arrested for protesting against the discriminatory Citizenship (Amendment) Act in Jafrabad, New Delhi in February.

The anti-CAA protest in Jafrabad is the same one that prompted BJP leader Kapil Mishra’s inflammatory speech days before the northeast Delhi riots. Needless to say, Mishra emerged unscathed from the controversy, while many student activists have found themselves at the receiving end of the Delhi Police’s massive witch hunt.

Also read: Two JNU students from women’s rights group Pinjra Tod arrested over February anti-CAA protest


Misplaced priorities

Currently, India is staring at 4,021 coronavirus-led deaths across the country and more than 77,103 active cases. In light of these unprecedented times, Indians need and deserve a caring, benevolent state. However, the Indian government’s strongarm hasn’t ceased to target the vulnerable, and continues to go after its own citizens — the ones who dare to show resistance. I use the word dare deliberately, because the state’s actions have made it crystal clear that dissent is criminalised in our country today. If this notion is up for debate, then the impression that the state’s priorities during the pandemic are dangerously misplaced is an undeniable fact.

Keeping in mind the countless disturbing accounts of workers walking home, our overwhelmed health system, the tanking economy and the fact that a huge chunk of our population is starving, if all the efforts made by the state are reserved to silence protesters, then the pandemic must be the second of all our worries.

Also read: As arrested and pregnant Jamia student is slandered online, husband keeps faith in judiciary


Easy targets

“Everyone feels they will be the next in line to be arrested” — a student from the Jamia Coordination Committee articulated the fear felt by those who actively protested against the CAA. These fears aren’t unfounded, as the nationwide lockdown and curbs on citizens’ movements have proven to be handy for the Delhi Police. The lockdown has comfortably provided space for consequence-free actions and almost no accountability. Moreover, with national attention glued to the coronavirus and its aftermath, the Delhi Police may be viewing this situation as a free-pass.

If it weren’t for the lockdown, booking Jamia students like Safoora Zargar, Meeran Haider or Umar Khalid under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) would have undeniably invited protests in front of the Delhi Police Headquarters, Shaheen Bagh or India Gate. Moreover, there is considerable merit to the belief that the state is using the cloak of coronavirus to attack student activists — especially ones who obviously don’t have as much clout as people like Kapil Mishra.

Weekly reports of Indian activists and student protesters being arrested for is an eerie reminder of China using the coronavirus outbreak to dismantle basic freedoms in Hong Kong, and introducing the National Security Laws.

These arrests will only incite more rage against the state, one compounded by the injustices that citizens are witnessing in a pandemic-struck country.

Views are personal.

Also read: China plans to tighten its grip on Hong Kong with a tough security law


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  1. A cursory glance at the comments section reveals that paid trolls of the liberal/secular brigade abound everywhere. Forever ready to paint the Indian govt and law enforcement agencies as evil.
    Else, these are unemployed graduates of you-know-which university (rather universities) who have both the time and the tenacity to target anyone and everyone who holds a contrarian point of view.

  2. Covid has exposed many fault-lines.. one such is the divide between those who would recognise that this article simply states what now is a truism, and those who still spout ‘they are extremist/violent blah blah’. The question is whether the latter actually believe what they say or are they shamming it for money or ideology?

  3. Ms. Grewal seems to have started believing that she is an opinion piece writer. She is young and has started fresh in the domain of journalism – just like most of her other colleagues in The Print. Its time to be learn the art of reporting news and to read voraciously across topics. It takes several long years for a young reporter to mature into an opinion piece writer. Mr. Shekhar Gupta is a sterling example of the same. If we wait for his CTC and NI uploads, its simply due to his immense knowledge over disparate fields backed by his on-the-ground reporting experience of more than 35 years.
    Reporters like Ms. Grewal, Mr. Vij and Ms. Yadav seem to be in a hurry and be the next Shekhar Gupta. A cursory look at their “opinion” pieces reveals that they are woefully under-prepared and have hardly any worthwhile grasp over the subjects on which they wish to pontificate. However, they are ultra-opinionated and one comes across a sense of entitlement in their writings. Qualities which are absolutely detrimental to the art and practice of journalism.

    • Stringing together random sentences does not make a coherent argument – not even in a comment. If you are paid to discredit progressive journalists, at least learn to not make it too obvious, mr. psudo-singh.

      • And who gets to decide whether a journalist is “progressive” or “regressive”?
        I guess you are the judge/umpire. And we all have to fall in line and accept your decisions, right?
        People who cannot accept other’s point of view and instantly label them as “paid” would do better to introspect.
        But I do agree that “stringing together random sentences does not make a coherent argument – not even in a comment”. Your comment is an apt example of the same. Its simply unable to put up a coherent argument.

        • Dear IT cell troll… It’s very obvious that you’re posting paid comments here. The arrested girls have no evidence against them and the court bailed them. You barking yourself hoarse about it shows your contempt for Indian courts and constitution.

        • nice to know that you are at least (probably) not a bot. now tell us, why does it sting to be implicitly categorised as ‘regressive’? is ‘progressive’ not a slur your masters have taught you to hurl at any one who dares to criticise them?
          and how can you agree with me and at the same time accuse me of “stringing together random sentences”?
          please (assuming that you are neither a bot not a paid troll) try to think for yourself and try to see the absurdity of your position. stop being intellectually blind. the rest will follow.

    • You’re not a part of that huge chunk and you’re celebrating their deaths with taali, seeti and thaali. So don’t worry too much!

  4. No, Omar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Tareek and other assorted ” Jiyales” are not lambs.
    They are hard core Communists/ islamists and Modi/ India haters.
    Their rightful place is in Tihar.

    • Dear troll… Let the court decide who’s who. And Modi haters are not India haters cuz India is beyond any politician. In fact, Modi haters are the true patriots as they are saving India from the clutches of blind nationalism and fascism. You guys have already turned this land into an intolerant lynchistan but we don’t want to push our country in to stone-age.

  5. Only anti-nationals can oppose CAA. Pinjra members are not tods. They wear mask of students but in practice they are leftist activists living on JNU campus. They are actively indulging in anti-national activities and have lead anti-CAA protects and instigator of Delhi riots. Leftists are destroying young minds and filling anti India poison in their heads. These young leftists are as dangerous as poisonous snakes. They can’t be left roaming free.

    • Opposing a government policy doesn’t make anyone anti-India because BJP is not India and India is not BJP. I am sure people like Rambhakt Gopal, Komal Sharma and other gobarbhakts (including you) are much more dangerous to India than these sloganeering and pen-holding “leftists”. And FYI, as far as these two girls are concerned, no such riot instigation links have been found. They were arrested on the basis of conspiracy theories and they were bailed by honorable court as they were arrested to divert people’s attention from the real instigators. “Goli maaro saalo ko” is real instigation.

  6. Student meant for Study at university. We Indian Paying taxes so that these Nexalite uncle /aunty type students can study freely and hv free food and accommodation.
    If they wanna be Activists and political cheerleaders of the Chinese Communist Virus , then be ready for the consequence.
    Leave Study and join either Nexalite /maiost movement or any hate India Chinese Communist Party

    • Are you saying that Komal Sharma & Akshat Awasthi were not students? In that case why are university elections held and why do ABVP goons participate in them, shouldn’t they study and stay away from politics? Everything for BJPigs and nothing for others? Thanks for accepting that Komal Sharma is infected with Chinese Communist Virus!

      • Thanks for accepting that Komal Sharma is infected with Chinese Communist Virus!: that is the funyest thing I read today!! Thanks.

        • Mr. Swapnil Gautam (assuming its a “he”) and Ms. Anamika ( assuming its a “she”) are clearly paid trolls. They have the time and the tenacity to reply to each comment on this news item. Have noticed them on many other news articles too. And its always the same modus operandi. Backing each other and promptly labelling others who disagree as trolls and what not.
          Wonder who might have employed them?

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