Tag Archives: Delhi

The Bogey of Public Inconvenience to Snatch the Right To Protest

Democracies across the world are defined by the virtue of the right to protest. Yet, in India,
that fancies itself as the largest democracy of the world, the governments are seen to be
chipping off that very right by raising the bogey of public inconvenience. They have
mobilised people, mostly their party members, to even physically attack such protests
including in one case by a gun wielding man firing at peaceful and unarmed protestors.

They started doing that with Shaheen Bagh protests against the controversial Citizenship
Amendment Act and the National Registry of Citizenship- both seen as an attempt to
disenfranchise the minorities by many. The government ably assisted by most of the news
channels, which have a habit of supporting everything that the government says- and at times
fitting imaginary nano-chips in the new currency notes- vilified the protestors and cracked
down on them.

Though, the Supreme Court of India, often the last recourse of the citizenry to safeguard
constitutional rights has not followed its Shaheen Bagh misadventure with farmers yet, it
seemed to collude with the attempts through both- acts of omission and commission. In doing
so, it reversed its own orders by bigger benches to break Shaheen Bagh protests. Further, the
committee it formed to break the deadlock between the government of India and the farmers
demanding total repeal of the new farm laws they think would lead to corporate loot of their
lands with every single member supporting the new laws made its stand amply clear.

That said, India’s winters of discontent for two years in a row now hint at a deepening malaise
of attacks on the right to protest. This year it is about farmers who are picketing New Delhi,
the national capital for over 2 months now at many of its borders. The government of India,
and many of the states as well, have gone all out to quell the protests including with high
handed measures that could have led to calamities. Bhartiya Janata Party that is ruling
Haryana started the crackdown with ill thought attack including with water canons and tear
gas on farmers coming to Delhi from Punjab on a narrow bridge at the Shambhu Border. It is
merely by chance that it did not lead to a stampede that could have killed many.

Yet, far more sinister than the physical attacks are the attempts to snatch the very right to
protest. Despite many noticing that, the channels behaving like Radio Rwanda did succeed in
hiding one of the worst assaults on right to protest duding Shaheen Bagh when a bench of
Supreme Court of India reversed an order of a bigger bench in In Himat Lal K Shah vs
Commissioner of Police, 1973 AIR 87. The court had then observed that even though citizens
cannot form unions and associations “in whatever place they please, nevertheless the State
cannot by law abridge or take away the right of assembly by prohibiting assembly on every
public street or public place.”

In a rather strange reading of the judgement, a 3-judge bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan
Kaul said “We have to make it unequivocally clear that public ways and public spaces cannot
be occupied in such a manner and that too indefinitely. Democracy and dissent go hand in
hand, but then the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone.”

To begin with, a three-judge bench reversing a 5-judge bench’s order is not legally right.
Then reading it in exact opposite words and undoing the right to protest it granted to the
citizens was plain unthinkable! The judgement said that the “state cannot by law abridge or
take away the right of assembly by prohibiting assembly on every public street or public
place”and not what the three judge bench read it as!

The judgement also undermined another judgement of the same court in the case S.
Rangarajan v. Jagjivan Ram (1989) 2 SCC 574. The Supreme Court had then noted that, “the
problem of defining the area of freedom of expression when it appears to conflict with the
various social interests enumerated under Article 19(2) may briefly be touched upon here.
There does indeed have to be a compromise between the interest of freedom of expression and
special interests. But we cannot simply balance the two interests as if they are of equal

“Our commitment of freedom of expression demands that it cannot be suppressed unless the
situations created by allowing the freedom are pressing and the community interest is
endangered. The anticipated danger should not be remote, conjectural or far-fetched. It
should have proximate and direct nexus with the expression. The expression of thought should
be intrinsically dangerous to the public interest. In other words, the expression should be
inseparably locked up with the action contemplated like the equivalent of a “spark in a
powder keg”.

In that judgement too the Court had clearly noted that unless the protests endanger the
community interest in proximate and direct terms, they cannot be broken up. The right to
protest is also enshrined in the international law and United Nation as covenants which India
is a party to. More recently, Joint report of the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of
peaceful assembly and of association and the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or
arbitrary executions on the proper management of assemblies underscored this right in 2016
noting that

“To this end, blanket bans, including bans on the exercise of the right entirely or on any
exercise of the right in specific places or at particular times, are intrinsically disproportionate,
because they preclude consideration of the specific circumstances of each proposed

Much bigger than all this, though, is the fact that protestors are part of the public too. They
are equal citizens of India with all their constitutional rights, including the right to protest.
Mobilizing members of political outfits to attack them, vilifying them as anti-nationals is an
ominous sign in a democracy.

Tikaits can correct Course with Farmers Unity Vaccine aginast BJP virus

Mahendra Tikait once ruled over Western UP and in fact all of North Indian Agrarian Politics! Head of strong Baliyan Khap- one of the strongest and largest communities within closely knit Jats, he also had the base for that!

Rakesh Tikait breaks into tears after UP govt's order to vacate Ghazipur  Border

I still remember his Boat Club rally that brought Rajiv Gandhi government to its knees (Boat Club was made a restricted zone only after that rally).


I remember how even my Congressi father who loved Gandhi family till the end had immense respect for him! “Akhir me ham bhi kisan hi hain na beta” he would say when I would read “Maya ” the famous political magazine of the times and ask about Tikait!


He ruled over farmers politics because he was dead honest- and secular to core. For him politics was for the farmers, by the farmers on agrarian issues.


He would defend the minorities’ rights with gusto. In a very famous case he led a struggle against a Muslim girl’s abduction until she was found. His Mahapanchayats would invite Muslims farmers as well with good numbers. He never let anyone turn the villages in the area into a communal warzone despite repeated riots in some of the cities- Meerut in particular. He would lead peace marches without fear- would ask Jats and almost order Baliyan Khap to protect minorities in their villages.


I also remember his several rallies in Lucknow in early 1990s- forcing the governments to accede to his demands every single time.


Then the political landscape of India started changing. One mistake of Rajiv Gandhi- the Shah Bano verdict followed by another Ram Mandir Shilanyas changed it all- and forever, par ahora!


Though his influence had started weaning by the end of 90s  thanks to both- Kamandal and Mandal with Hindutva politics weakening farmers unity and demands of reservation for Jats adding to the growing divide- he stayed powerful and secular till the end in 2011!


That gave an even bigger space to BJP to expand in the Jat Belt as it is called!


Tikait brothers could have stopped it- perhaps- had they stayed true to their fathers’ vision. Unfortunately, their silence, almost I mean, on increasing communalization of the area began the end! Suddenly- Muslims who used to be an equal part of their support base started ditching them, and rightly so. Rakesh Tikait’s participation in the infamous 2013 MahaPanchayat that led to Muzaffarnagar riots killing Muslims and Hindus both, almost finished them as leaders of all Jats! Muslims, too, had no reason to stay with them anymore.


This also led to decreasing influence of Jat Politics in the region- and BJP did make a show of it by making a non-Jat chief minister of Haryana after it swept the state. This followed by the electoral loss of Ajit Singh and rout of the Rashtriya Lok Dal and things had come a full circle.


Tikait Brothers did have a go at revival during Jat Quota Stir in February 2016 when BJP betrayed Jats on its poll promise of reservation for them- and brutally cracked upon the movement against that- killing 30 Jats in police firing! Yet, they failed to galvanize on that and bring the Jats and agrarian issues to the centre of the politics. There were rather whispers against them of colluding with BJP later and tacitly supporting them in 2019 elections!


Emboldened by recapturing Haryana even if by a brink despite non Jat CM and Feb 2016 repression, perhaps, BJP took them as done and dusted with. It’s sweep of Jat Lands in 2019 Lok Sabha polls made it delude into having finished Jat politics altogether!


It had forgotten, though, that Tikait brothers still had a lot of support and goodwill. Being head of Baliyan Khap had kept at least those numbers intact. All they needed was an entry point again. BJP gave them that with ill though Farm Bills intended to rob farmers to pay their masters.


Stunned with massive resistance it had never thought of, it miscalculated again and attacked them even more! Terming farmers, mostly Jats and Sikhs anti national, calling them terrorists was way too much to chew.


Then came the threats of brutal repression- and the defiant tears!


Rakesh Tikait roared through his tears: We will not court arrest. They may kill us. They may shoot us. I won’t leave. Those who want to leave can leave.


This was the first time in my memory of Indian Politics when protests have been reduced to “Court Arrest Drama” followed by victory calls, a few hours in some Police Stations and back home!


The tables were turned. Almost 10,000 troops in riot gear sent to evacuate Ghazipur protest site got swept off by those tears! Farmers across UP and Haryana were stirred by the tears too: they started for Delhi in the night itself! 30,000 of them have already reached!


BJP governments- both at centre and in UP along with Godi Media flexing muscles till then were suddenly stunned, not knowing what to do of this! They did what cowards do- they ran away!


UP government came true on its promise of evacuating Ghazipur Protest Site. Just that in reverse: It evacuated the site of its troops! Farmers are still pitched there! 


This is a historic moment for the Tikait Brothers- of correcting their mistakes and bringing agrarian issues back to the mainstream  politics. They can do this only by going their father’s way- uniting farmers using the Agri issues as vaccine against BJP virus by uniting all farmers, specially Muslims!

Would they be able to do it? Only time will tell!


Delhi: A View from Babhnan

Delhi. It was not a city I chose. It was one forced upon me. I  had cleared both: NIMHANS in Bengaluru (then Banglore and JNU- now everything negative!). And the “Party” I was working with ordered me to join JNU, so I ended up in Delhi, the national capital.  

Delhi was lovely, not even an inch threatening as I was made to feel. It had all the space for a boy from Babhnan, who high schooled from Gorakhpur, and graduated from Allahabad, and came for his M Phil and Phd from the city. 

The boy from Babhnan loved the city and thought it was reciprocal. 

It was. Till he met his first girlfriend. Her elder sister was in love with someone not from her caste, and it was a hell unleashed on all of us. The girlfriend called me, in the dead of the night, and all the boy from Babhnan had to say was come to my room. They did. It was a reverse learning curve for the boy. He had grown with the guns. Licensed, and more so, with unlicensed ones. He never liked them. But he loved his mom- and his mom was the one, who once sent him with his uncle, Ramnath Chacha, go and teach him how to shoot, Ramnath, when he was just 12.

So this boy from Babhnan was in Delhi, in JNU. not knowing that JNU would change him. For now, and forever. He did not know that the posters on JNU walls would affect him so much. He had done all this in Allahabad, after all.

He did not know that he would start experimenting in love here, that he would fall for a Jat girl from nearby. And then a Bengalan. And then a Tamil. And then he got married. With the Tamilian girl. And then he realised that he loves a Punjabi girl.

It was a break in the journey of the small boy from Babhnan.

The girl he never knew, despite her being friends with many of his close friends. She always asked, as I knew later, why is this man always angry. She would ask others, but never the man. 

The man too did not know her. Even when she was his life. 

Delhi, you mean city, you kept them apart, for so long. 





Is Arvind Kejriwal an RSS/BJP Agent?

Qus: Is Kejriwal a RSS plant?


Arvind Kejriwal hugs wife.

Ans: Rubbish! He is one of the very few leaders who have gave RSS a real scare off late.Qus: But AAP contesting elections helps BJP?
Ans: Did it in Punjab? Or in Goa? Manipur and Meghalaya it did not even contest

Q: But AAP’s mere presence helps BJP.
A: By this logic JP, George Fernandes, Sharad Yadav, Mulayam Singh Yadav are biggest RSS men- JP & George helped RSS become mainstream for the 1st time in India in 1977, Sharad and gang ‘Normalised’ it by allying with it since 1996 as Samta Party leaders. And Mulayam Singh Yadav: remember his betrayal of the entire liberal secular spectrum in 1998? His passive support to BJP led to Congress falling short of majority and Vajpayee became PM again. And of course his alliances: He allied with Kalyan Singh- the BJP CM who ensured demolition of Babri Mosque and also Sakshi Maharaj. Remember now BJP hate monger Sakshi was once a SP Rajya MP too.

Q: Why does Kejriwal sound so right wing sometimes then?
A: Because Right Wing is the common sense of the country that teaches its children to believe in caste and gender hierarchies, in Bharat Mata’s imagery, in Army is an unquestionable holy cow and what not. And who started it all? Congress!

What do you expect from someone, anyone, who grew up seeing military parades on 15 August and 26 January as national pride?

He is definitely a Centre Right politician- like 2/3rd of even Congress, and 90% of all other smaller parties that claim to be secular. And he has learnt from them and the times. Remember his Anti-Reservation days? When he used to address Youth for Equality rallies? He is definitely moving, if he hasn’t already, in the right direction from his earlier- commonsensical, economic right leaning politics with ample dose of patriotic imagery- Bharat Mata and Tiranga.

Q: Why did he offer to support BJP if it grants full statehood to Delhi?
A: I am not some magician to know why he did it. But it indeed was a super maverick move. He knows that BJP will never give full state status to Delhi. Thus the statement will keep him and AAP in news for a while. And what if BJP indeed gives? Then he would have full power to run Delhi and that will ensure hell’s wrath for the RSS clan- imagine AAP govt with a power to arrest whoever like BJP did with its MLAs.

Aad then, Congress has been calling him BJP agent, BJP’s B Team and what not since times immemorial- how does it change anything for him. Further: his support base is urban middle classes, especially middle and lower and urban poor to an extent. Service Delivery matters more to them than ideological nuances on any given day.

Q: And when Sharad Yadav(s), Nitish Kumar(s) and Ram Vilas Paswan(s) joining BJP ministries did not make them RSS men, how does Kejriwal’s mere statement makes him?

P.S You cannot fight those no morals, BJP in this case which can ally with even PDP nonchalantly by sticking to some archaic Dharm Yuddha rules from mythical Mahabharata. When enemy operates with Take No Prisoners- unleash CBI, ED, all we have on them- force them to join us like Mukul Roy(s) and Narayan Rane(s) or send them to jail like Lalu Prasad Yadav, being Arvind Kejriwal matters. Remember he famously called Narendra Modi ‘a coward and a psychopath’? And he has still not spent some quality time in some smart jail of the regime?

Congress, and the rest, will better come out of this knee jerk reaction and engage with him and AAP. Or they have Delhi experience to remember.