Modi government using COVID 19, Afghan terror attack to silence resistance against CAA

Canadian author Naomi Klein’s warning to her readers about the tendency of big powers to capitalize on catastrophes has started showing a sign in the world’s so called largest democracy.

The right wing Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been facing international criticism for bringing a discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that welcomes non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh and excludes Muslims.

The Modi government claims that only non-Muslims in those Muslim dominated countries face religious persecution, and India being a neighbouring nation has an obligation to open its doors for them. However, this goes against the principles of secularism and inclusion enshrined in the Indian constitution. The CAA sparked angry protests against the Modi government across the globe. Even before, attacks on religious minorities have grown under Modi since he came to power with a brute majority in 2014. Modi’s critics fully understand the real intentions behind the CAA, which is part of a larger design to turn India into Hindu theocracy.

Now, two major events that shook the world have turned out to be a blessing in disguise for a heartless government in New Delhi: the COVID 19 which has affected more than 150 countries, including India, and the recent terror attack on a Gurdwara in Kabul that left 25 Sikhs dead.

On the pretext of enforcing physical distancing and stopping the spread of coronavirus, the Modi government announced a lockdown, which has brought the anti-CAA protests to a standstill. Though it is understandable that this is not the right time to organize huge demonstrations, what is not convincing is the way the police in Delhi went to one of the major protest sites and erased graffiti and slogans against CAA. The police used excessive force elsewhere to implement a curfew, and did not let daily wage-earners for whom staying home is not a choice to step out. The protests which had exposed Modi have not only been obliterated physically, but have lost relevance for media outlets which are overwhelmed with the coverage of Coronavirus.

If this was not enough, the Islamic State extremists attacked a gurdwara in Kabul on February 25, killing 25 innocent people. Since then, the Modi supporters have intensified their campaign in defence of CAA. They are now asking the Indian government to speed up its process of bringing Hindus and Sikhs from Afghanistan and attacking the CAA opponents as “anti-nationals”

So much so, one of the BJP leaders even questioned the Sikhs in Delhi who served free food to the anti-CAA Muslim protesters to show their solidarity. Kapil Mishra went to the extent of linking Muslims in Delhi with Islamic State in Afghanistan. This makes no sense as one cannot blame ordinary Muslims in India for any action of Islamic State in another country.

All this only suggests that more than being concerned about the safety of its citizens and non-Muslims in Afghanistan, Modi and his apologists are trying to use these incidents to silence any voice of resistance against its divisive political agenda. In times of uncertainty when the dependency of people on governments starts growing, it becomes easier for those in power to make everyone fall in line and stop questioning.

The mindset behind such an inhuman and mean approach is best explained in Shock Doctrine written by Klein. In a recent video she expressed how COVID 19 is being used by governments, including the one led by right wing US President Donald Trump, to pursue their policies of scrapping civil liberties and promoting free market economics. Modi therefore cannot be an exception considering his outright fascist ideology.

Gurpreet Singh is a journalist


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