Sunday’s protests in Jaffrabad, amidst Trump's visit, have furthered the attempt to internationalise anti-CAA agitation
The anti-CAA protests have gained huge attention from domestic and foreign media alike. Several major international publications have featured featuring reports on the ongoing protests and resultant police action on their front pages.
On Sunday, hundreds of anti-CAA protesters, who according to several reports, were mostly women, blocked a road near the Jaffrabad metro station, which connects Seelampur with Maujpur and Yamuna Vihar. This was when the Supreme Court-mandated team of interlocutors were in talks with organisers of the Shaheen Bagh protest to amicably resolve the issue, the most pressing concern being that the two-month agitation has impeded traffic in the area.
On Sunday anti-CAA protesters blocked a new road which was confronted by the group opposing such blockades. As reported by the Business Standard, “Tension simmered in the area after hundreds of anti-CAA protesters, mostly women, blocked a road near the Jaffrabad metro station, which connects Seelampur with Maujpur and Yamuna Vihar.”
The report also quoted a woman, who identified herself as Bushra, saying that till the time the CAA was not revoked, the protesters would not leave the site.
Perhaps the answer can be found in US president Donald Trump’s maiden visit to India.
It was a clear attempt to gain President Trump’s attention. And, what added to this ploy was the fact that a loudmouth political leader decided to confront these protesters with a counter-protest.
On Sunday following the anti-CAA protesters that blocked the road near the Jaffrabad metro station, BJP leader Kapil Mishra reached Jaffrabad with his supporters after which clashes erupted between pro and anti-CAA protesters in the area.
Mishra later tweeted, “We have given a three-day ultimatum to the Delhi Police to get the road cleared. Get the Jaffrabad and Chandbagh (where another sit-in protest is underway) road cleared”. In his speech, Mishra said, “They (referring to protesters) want to create trouble in Delhi. That’s why they have closed the roads. That’s why they have created a riot-like situation here. We have not pelted any stones. Till the US president is in India, we are leaving the area peacefully. After that we won’t listen to you (referring to police) if the roads are not vacated”.
While Mishra acknowledged the fact that any violence during the visit of the American president would not be in the best interest of his government, however, at the same time, he fell in the trap laid by the protesters.
Gaining headlines in international media is an efficient means of internationalising domestic issues and thereby exerting pressure on the government.
In August 2018, following the arrest of Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, and P Varavara Rao for allegedly inciting violence in the Bhima Koregaon early that year, author Arundhati Roy marked the arrest as “preparation for the coming elections” and “declaration of emergency” a comment that was hugely reported in international media.
Similarly, following the abrogation of Article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, journalist Rana Ayyub made several comments targeting India government which garnered much international attention, including from the Pakistani government
In an interview given to Time, Ayyub had remarked, “Kashmiri voices have been silenced, democratic leaders have been censored. It’s the first time since the Emergency that two democratic leaders from mainstream parties have been placed under house arrest”.
In the weeks following abrogation of Article 370 and then after the passage of Citizenship Amendment Act, a host of Indian activists selectively spoke and wrote for international media in an attempt to internationalise these issues.