Anti-Establishment Protests During Pandemic

Anti-Establishment Protests During Pandemic

Amidst several changes brought by the Covid-19 pandemic, the world is also witnessing anti-establishment protests for bringing more democratic changes in the system amidst severe violations of democracy in several nations.

Crux of the Matter

Thailand
More than 10,000 people gathered in protest in Bangkok, Thailand, demanding democratic reforms in the monarchical system and amendments in the Constitution. The protesters also demanded the removal of “Lèse-majesté” laws in Thailand, where citizens can face 15 years in jail for defaming the King or any royal family member of Thailand. Protesters have alleged that the law is being used to suppress voices of genuine criticism.

While the absolute monarchy in Thailand was abolished in 1932, the Monarch still holds considerable power in the country, with the “Lèse-majesté” coming to his aid. In 2014, the Thailand Govt was removed in a coup by the military, and the country has been under a military junta rule since then.

Lebanon
Protests have been going on since 2019 in Lebanon over the dismantled economy and political mismanagement. These protests have been strengthened after the recent Beirut blast, which occurred at the Beirut port on 4 August, and resulted in more than 200 casualties.

The explosion occurred due to the storage of Ammonium Nitrate in large quantities on the port, with the compound being stored since 2014 and the authorities warning of a possible danger since 2016. The protesters have demanded the removal of the current government and have also criticized the “mafia” Hezbollah.

Mali
Mali, a country located in Western Africa, had witnessed large scale protests demanding the resignation of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita for weeks.

Keita was re-elected in 2018 after victory in 2013. However, the public had been demanding his removal over allegations of unfair elections, unchecked corruption, and an increase in attacks by radical Islamist groups.

On 18 August 2020, Keita was arrested by the military, which then overtook the control of the country. In its statement, the military has said it will hold elections soon and would act only as a “caretaker” till the elections. France and the European Union (EU) have condemned the military coup in their official statements.

USA
On 25 May 2020, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by a police officer over suspicion of fake currency usage. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, choked Floyd by bending his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes 46 seconds.

Millions of people have come to the streets for protests, which are still continuing all across the world. The move has also drawn support from athletes, musicians and celebrities across the world. Police defunding and accountability bills have been proposed in the US Parliament since the protests to eliminate such racial violence by the police.

Hong Kong
In 2019, China proposed an ‘extradition law’ for the trial of Hong Kong citizens in the Chinese Courts (China and Hong Kong are connected through the ‘1 country, 2 systems’ provision). In June 2020, China passed the ‘Security Law’ in Hong Kong which criminalizes sedition and includes criticism of the government in the definition of Sedition.

Protests, going on since 2019, have increased in numbers as well as intensity with the recent ‘Security Law’ being passed, with the protesters demanding democracy and freedom from “draconian” Chinese laws. Several thousand protesters have been arrested, with several of them disappearing since.

Belarus
Alexander Lukashenko recently won the Belarus Presidential election with more than 80% votes going in his favour. Lukashenko has been the President since 1994. However, all elections since 1994, including 2020 one, have been declared “unfair and rigged” by the Organization for Security and Co-operation (OSCE).

Opposition leaders have fled to other nations for security after the self proclaimed ‘dictator’ was re-elected. Large scale protests demanding the resignation of Lukashenko have erupted in the country since his re-election, and more than than 7,000 protesters have been arrested so far. The European Union has declared the 2020 elections ‘unfair’ and has stated that it stands “in solidarity with the people of Belarus”.

Curiopedia
  • The Nepalese Civil War was a civil war in Nepal fought between the Communist Party of Nepal and the Government of Nepal from 1996 to 2006. The rebellion was launched with the purpose of overthrowing the Nepalese monarchy and establishing a People’s Republic.
  • Social movement theory is an interdisciplinary study within the social sciences that generally seeks to explain why social mobilization occurs and the forms under which it manifests. Anomie and Egoism are two major problems behind social distress as per one of the classical approaches of the theory. 
  • James Jasper is a writer and sociologist best known for his research and theories about culture and politics, especially the cultural and emotional dimensions of protest movements. He teaches at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

From Balochistan to Islamabad – Pakistan’s Internal Turmoil

Protest in Balochistan

Pakistan witnessed protests against army in Balochistan with a simultaneous undermining of the democratic power and security in the country, part of which many attribute to the government’s handling of Covid-19.

Crux of the Matter

Unrest In Balochistan
Protests in Balochistan turned severe as the Pakistan army was forced to abandon its check posts as protesters pelted stones. The actions have come in the light of the murder of a 4 year old child with his mother, done by terrorists allegedly backed by Pakistan army.


History Of Balochistan
Balochistan is situated in the western part of Pakistan. It was under British rule at the same time as India. After independence in 1947, it wanted an independent existence. Eventually, the demand changed to ‘union’ with India. On 27 March 1948, it was announced on India’s All India Radio that Balochistan “was pressing” to join India but “India would have nothing to do with it”. On the same day, the Pakistan army marched to Balochistan and forcefully annexed it.

Karachi Blackout
On 9 June 2020, an alleged blackout was observed in Karachi. The blackout came as a result of the spotting of some jets near the city which was reported on social media as imminent invasion by the Indian Air Force. However, later it was revealed that the jets belonged to the Pakistan Air Force and were merely patrolling.

Army Strengthening – What It Means?
As civilian disapproval of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan increased due to the country’s handling of Covid-19, several experts have claimed that the army is now ruling the country with Imran Khan merely residing on paper. Many defence analysts even say that Gen Qamar Bajwa is the real power behind Imran Khan’s throne.

The claims came out after the appointment of 3 military officers in major government roles in the last 2 months, increasing the tally of army officers in government roles to 12. The claim is further strengthened by the assigning of important projects like the recent China-belt road to senior military leaders.

By appointing an increasing number of current and retired military officials in key positions, the government is ceding what little space civilians had in developing and executing policy in the country.

Uzair Younus, nonresident Senior Fellow, the Atlantic Council
Curiopedia
  • Operation Lyari is a Pakistan Government crackdown against local gangs and other crime syndicates and a part of the greater Karachi Operation. Notorious Lyari gang leader, Noor Muhammad alias Baba Ladla was killed in Lyari during a shootout with Pakistani Rangers.
  • The Port of Karachi is one of South Asia’s largest and busiest deep-water seaports, handling about 60% of the nation’s cargo (25 million tons per annum) located in Karachi, Pakistan. The administration of the port is carried out by the Karachi Port Trust, which was established in the nineteenth century.
  • Benazir Bhutto was a Pakistani politician who served as Prime Minister of Pakistan from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996. She was the first woman to head a democratic government in a Muslim majority nation. Posthumously, she came to be regarded as an icon for women’s rights due to her political success in a male-dominated society.

Chickens of Delhi Come Home to Roost

Delhi violence

Delhi Violence has acted as a catalyst to further polarize the citizenry that is already polarized after anti-CAA protests. Moreover, media that is representing only one side of the story is being criticized. Arrests of people associated with the violence are being made as chickens of Delhi come back home to roost.

Crux of the Matter

Instigating Blindness – The Case of DBigXray
The widespread appeal of some people is to hear and look a the stories of violence from the lenses of both, Hindus and Muslims as both of them partook equally in violence and suffering. The role of media that is showing stories only from either side is being criticized.

The role of media became more riling after it became known that a user called DBigXray, a senior Wikipedia editor, was editing Wikipedia page of Delhi violence. Allegedly, he deliberately left out pieces to project the Delhi violence as an anti-Muslim pogrom. According to Reddit post, the person’s identity was revealed to be Deepesh Raj.

AAP MLA Tahir Hussain Arrested
AAP MLA Tahir Hussain is suspected of murdering the 26-year old Intelligence Bureau Officer, Ankit Sharma. Allegedly, Sharma was stabbed several times before his body was thrown into Chandbag drain. Hussain is also alleged of instigating and participating in violence on the basis of the video surfaced that showed petrol bombs and stones were hailed from his rooftop. AAP had suspended Hussain after an FIR for the murder of the IB officer was lodged against him.

Hussain pleaded innocence and was absconding on the grounds that he and his family had to run away from the rioters and that the police knew about it. He filed an anticipatory bail in the Delhi High Court. Delhi Police arrested Hussain from Delhi Court where he had arrived to surrender. He will be interrogated and produced before the court. He, in an interview to India Today, said that he was being ‘framed as a part of some conspiracy.’

‘My Name is Shahrukh, and I…’
A 33-year old man named Mohammed Shahrukh became the face of the Delhi riots after a video depicting him intimidating lone police officer by wielding a gun against him surfaced. According to ACP Singhla, he fired three rounds from his country-made pistol.

He and his family are absconding ever since the incident. Delhi Police arrested Shahrukh from Shamli, Uttar Pradesh. During Police interrogation, Shahrukh told Police that he was not a part of the protests, but went outside to save his sister, who was a part of the sit-in protest at Jaffrabad. However, later Shahrukh told the Police that he went to the protest on 24 February after his friends encouraged him. Police found that he also had friends in the Chenu gang that is active in Northeast Delhi and some parts of Uttar Pradesh.

Activist Harsh Mander Accused for Hate Speech
Delhi Police has filed a case against activist Harsh Mander for hate speech that allegedly instigated violence at Jamia university. Representing Delhi Police, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said that Mander disrespected the Apex court in his speech.

This is a fight for the soul of our Constitution… This battle can’t be won in the Supreme Court, because we have seen that over some time, in the cases of NRC, Kashmir and Ayodhya, it did not protect humanity, equality and secularism.

– Harsh Mander in his speech at Jamia.

He has also sought FIRs against BJP leaders like Kapil Mishra and Anurag Thakur for hate speech that incited violence in Delhi.

Kapil Mishra and Interview Spree
In an interview with Swarajya, BJP Leader Kapil Mishra said that his speech did not provocate the violence in Delhi as violence kept happening since 16 December 2019. He said that people who raise slogans like ‘tukde-tukde‘, arson buses and property, and block roads are calling him a terrorist. He added that he never spoke anything about violence during his speech. Activists like Harsh Mander have sought to file a case of hate speech against Kapil Mishra.

Planned Riots?
Former JNU student Umar Khalid‘s video dated 17 February 2020 has surfaced. He is seemed to be urging people to come out on the streets on the day of Trump’s visit to India. In the video, he asks people to show to Trump that Modi is trying to divide the country and tarnish the image of Gandhi. Many are posing the question of whether the Delhi riots were planned.

Martyr Ratan Lal
Constable Ratan Lal died while saving the life of DCP Amit Sharma when a mob had started pelting stone on the police, as per the video surfaced. It is seen in the video that the police are outnumbered by the stone-pelters. Women are seen to be throwing stones at policemen.

Curiopedia

Hate Speech in India – The Constitution of India and its hate speech laws aim to prevent discord among its many ethnic and religious communities. The laws allow a citizen to seek the punishment of anyone who shows the citizen disrespect “on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever”. The laws specifically forbid anyone from outraging someone’s “religious feelings”.

India prohibits hate speech by several sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Code of Criminal Procedure, and by other laws which put limitations on the freedom of expression. Section 95 of the Code of Criminal Procedure gives the government the right to declare certain publications “forfeited” if the “publication … appears to the State Government to contain any matter the publication of which is punishable under Section 124A or Section 153A or Section 153B or Section 292 or Section 293 or Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code”. More Info

Delhi Violence Escalation Takes Life of Young IB Officer, AAP MLA Booked

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) councilor Tahir Hussain (in image) has been booked by Delhi Police on charges of murder, arson, and violence on February 27. He is accused of murdering 26-year old Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer Ankit Sharma during the violent clashes in Delhi. You can read Summachar’s coverage on Delhi Violence here.

Crux of the Matter

The Delhi Police has registered an FIR against Hussain under Section 302 (murder) at the Dayalpur police station. The family of the Intelligence Bureau officer who died during the riots accused Tahir Hussain of killing him.

Tahir Hussain denied any involvement in the riots or in the murder of the IB officer. He said, “It is wrong to target me. I and my family have nothing to do with it.” Aam Aadmi Party has suspended Tahir Hussain after the action by the Delhi Police.

The IB officer’s dead body was found from Chandbag drainage in Jaffrabad on February 26. He was allegedly beaten to death by a mob on 25 February. His body was sent for autopsy and it was found that he was stabbed multiple times. Ankit Sharma’s father, Ravinder said, “Hussain’s supporters killed and shot him after he was beaten.”

Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) leaders have accused Hussain and AAP of instigating violence and triggering a riot-like situation. A preliminary investigation found that Tahir’s four-storey house was allegedly used for hurling stones, petrol bombs, and chemicals during the violence.

On the contrary, Tahir Hussain targeted the BJP leaders, including Kapil Mishra and demanded strict action against them for giving instigative speeches. Until now 34 people have been killed and over 200 injured in the clashes between anti and pro CAA groups.

Curiopedia

The Intelligence Bureau is India’s internal intelligence agency. It is reputed to be the oldest such organization in the world. Arvind Kumar, the current director of the IB, took over from Rajiv Jain on 26 June 2019. the IB is used to garner intelligence from within India and also execute counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism tasks. The Bureau comprises employees from law enforcement agencies, mostly from the Indian Police Service (IPS) or the Indian Revenue Service (IRS) and the military. The IB is particularly tasked with intelligence collection in border areas, following the 1951 recommendations of the Himmat Singh Ji Committee, a task entrusted to the military intelligence organisations prior to independence in 1947. All spheres of human activity within India and in the neighbourhood are allocated to the charter of duties of the Intelligence Bureau. More Info

Understanding the Chronology of Post-CAA Delhi Conflagration

Polarization from Citizenship Amendment Act continued on the day of Balakot anniversary as it engulfed Delhi in yet another violent spree. More than 20 people have died, including an Intelligence Bureau Officer and more than 180 have been injured. Delhi needs to be doused and saved from arson and communal violence. You can read Summachar’s coverage on CAA here.

Crux of the Matter

Violence and arson engulfed Delhi at a time when Donald Trump was on his maiden visit to India. The extrapolation of communalism during anti-CAA protests has taken a horrifying spin after escalating each time, be it the incidents at Jamia, Seelampur, Shaheen Bagh, Jafrabad, Chandbagh, or Maujpur. The capital city has become a hotbed of polarizing statements. The recently concluded Delhi Elections also saw a series of hateful and polarizing statements from politicians from across the spectrum.

Death toll in Delhi has crossed 20. Clash of pro-CAA and anti-CAA protestors rocked the Maujpur region of northeast Delhi. A young man called Shahrukh intimidated an unarmed policeman and opened 8 rounds of fire. A mosque had been torched in the capital city.

A 26-year old Intelligence Bureau officer’s dead body was found in the Chandbag drain. A senior police official said that the officer was missing since a group had stopped him after he went out of his house when the group was pelting stones in his colony.

The situation had worsened to an extent that Delhi police had to issue a ‘shoot at sight‘ order in northeast Delhi. Rapid Action Force (RAF) conducted a flag march in northeast Delhi to take control of the situation. National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval had met Delhi Police and Ministry Officials to get an overview of the situation. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had visited the Raj ghat and prayed for peace. He had urged the Centre to deploy the Army to tackle the situation. However, he is yet to visit the affected areas.

Supreme Court slammed Police and authorities for not taking proper action against the incessant violence in the Capital. Delhi High Court, referring to the killing of 3,000 people during anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, said that it cannot let another 1984 happen. It has urged the government and police authorities to take action to settle the situation in Delhi.

Before the current violent escalations in Delhi, a series of violent events had engulfed it from the day Citizenship Amendment Act was passed.

Chronology of Violence

15 December 2019
Jamia Milia Police Crackdown
The anti-CAA protests intensified on 15 December when students of Jamia Milia University of Delhi took to streets of South Delhi to voice their concerns. Police, in order to disperse the crowd, used tear gas shells and lathicharged protestors. Allegedly, the police had entered Jamia campus and beaten students with batons and fired tear gas bombs. In the south Delhi region, protestors also torched 4 buses and 2 police vehicles in the New Friends area. As many as 60 people, including students, policemen, and firefighters were injured in the clash.

15 December 2019 – Continue Till Date
Shaheen Bagh Protests
In the Shaheen Bagh region of Delhi, a Muslim dominated region, sit-in protests have continued till today, 72nd day. These protests became the focal point of campaigning before the Delhi Legislative Elections. Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Amanatullah Khan, who allegedly instigated violence at the site, received a landslide victory in the elections.

17 December 2019
Seelampur Goes Violent
Anti-CAA protests in Seelampur region of northeast Delhi became violent. It is yet unknown what started the violence, but the protestors clashed with police, pelting stones and torching buses. Allegedly, during the clash Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) got injured after a stone hit his head.

20 December 2019
Daryaganj Arson
Anti-CAA protests at the Daryaganj region of Delhi became violent after the protestors started pelting stones and torched a car in front of Delhi DCP’s office. Police had to use water cannons to disperse the crowd.

28 January 2020
Arrest of Sharjeel Imam
Sharjeel Imam, the co-organizer at the Shaheen Bagh protests, was arrested on 28 January on charges of Sedition, inciting and abetting riots and creating religious disharmony. He was charged for his speech at the Aligarh Muslim University, in which he made controversial remarks about blocking the chicken-neck corridor in Siliguri to cut off northeast from the rest of India.

30 January 2020
Man Opens Fire at Student Protestors
At an anti-CAA rally near Jamia, a person named Rambhakt Gopal opened fire at the student protestors. Allegedly, he was shouting the slogan of ‘ye lo azadi‘ before opening fire, which injured one student from Jamia University.

1st Week of February 2020
Delhi Elections
Delhi Legislative Elections witnessed polarizing statements from both parties, BJP and AAP. BJP leaders picked up Shaheen Bagh protests as their political agenda and a series of hateful statements began from its leaders.

20 February 2020
Karnataka
In relation to the anti-CAA protests, AIMIM leader Waris Pathan made a controversial communal threat.

22 February 2020
Jafrabad Blockade
Nearly 500 Muslim women staged protest at the Jafrabad metro station and blocked Road no. 66 that connects Seelamput to Yamuna Vihar and Maujpur.

23 February 2020
Maujpur
BJP leader Kapil Mishra had tweeted a video where he gave Delhi Police three ultimatum to clear the protestors-filled roads until Donald Trump is on India visit.

Curiopedia

Religious violence in India includes acts of violence by followers of one religious group against followers and institutions of another religious group, often in the form of rioting. Religious violence in India has generally involved Hindus and Muslims. Along with domestic organizations, international human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch publish reports on acts of religious violence in India. Over 2005 to 2009 period, an average of 130 people died every year from communal violence, or about 0.01 deaths per 100,000 population. The state of Maharashtra reported the highest total number of religious violence related fatalities over that five-year period, while Madhya Pradesh experienced the highest fatality rate per year per 100,000 population between 2005 and 2009. Over 2012, a total of 97 people died across India from various riots related to religious violence. More Info

Communal Violence in Delhi has a long embedded history into politics and partition. In 1974, communal violence broke out to such an extent that an apartheid kind of situation was created. Interviews conducted by Centre for the Study of Developing Societies showed that “Hindus believed Muslims were poor, backward in education, religious fanatics, and quarrelsome and harsh. Some other perceptions quoted in the report include that Muslims marry several times and do not regard the country as their own.” More Info