Mystery Shrouds Shaheen Bagh Men’s Decision to Join BJP

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AAP’s allegation that the protests were BJP-engineered has deeply hurt the women protesters who put up their fight against the government for several months

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – The decision of some Muslims, including political activist Shehzad Ali, from Shaheen Bagh areas to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has triggered a political storm raising questions over the Shaheen Bagh protests.

On Sunday, Ali and others joined the BJP at a press conference in the presence of state BJP president Adesh Gupta. The move has raised eyebrows as Ali and other Muslims who turned saffronites had been called by media as activists of the Shaheen Bagh sit-in which continued for months in protest against the discriminatory citizenship law.

“I have joined the BJP to prove wrong those in our community who think that the BJP is our enemy. We’ll sit together with them over the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) concerns,” said Ali.

But the Muslims’ decision has drawn sharp reactions from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) whose leader Saurabh Bharadwaj told journalists on Monday that the Shaheen Bagh protests against Modi government’s draconian law were actually BJP-engineered.

“Some key people associated with the Shaheen Bagh protest joined the BJP in the presence of the senior leadership….this shows that the two were linked. We studied the Shaheen Bagh protest closely. We noted that suddenly some strange people came there and raised anti-national slogans, talked about dividing India, tried to create a riot-like situation or asked everyone to block more roads. The Delhi police did not take any action against these people,” claimed Bharadwaj.

He and other AAP leaders seem to have levelled these serious allegations against the democratic protest without offering any evidence. The charges have deeply hurt the women protesters who put up their fight against the government for several months.

“The women, mostly housewives who had nothing to do with any form of party politics, were pained, they were insecure over their children being beaten up in college campuses. They came out for the sake of the future of the next generation. What has the BJP got to do with how a mother felt? Dil pe zakhm laga,” Shaheen Kausar, one of the prominent faces at the protest, was quoted by Indian Express as saying.

However, the Shaheen Bagh protesters are yet to confirm the intentions of the former activists like Ali and others who joined the BJP by going against the very spirit of their protests. While wondering about these ‘detractors’ contributions to the anti-CAA movement, the protesters are sure that these ‘BJP men’, including Ali, were never the organisers of any sit-in and might just be some random people who might have visited the protest site.

However, information about Ali available in the public domain suggests that he and other Muslims who joined the BJP are political opportunists. According to a press release posted by RTI activist Saket Gokhale on Twitter, Ali was associated with a Muslim political group Rashtriya Ulema Council (RUC) of which he was secretary in Delhi in 2019. RUC’s spokesperson Advocate Talha Rashadi said he was suspended from the group a long time ago.

According to a report published in Madhyamam English, Ali is a property dealer by profession who has frequently shifted his political affiliations from one party to another. He has shared stage with Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, RUC leader Moulana Tahir Madani, MIM Foundation leader Navaid Choudhry, Muslim Political Council leader Taslim Rahmani and others in the past years.

Qasim Rasool Ilyas, National President of the Welfare Party, believes that the BJP is trying to discredit the Shaheen Bagh movement by inducting into the party some people from the locality.

“The government has been making a lot of efforts to discredit the Shaheen Bagh movement. First, they try to associate this movement with the communal riots. Second, the activists who took part in the protests have been made accused in the communal violence cases. Now, they are saying that the Shaheen Bagh activists are joining the BJP. The government wants to give the impression that those who opposed the CAA-NRC are now supporting it. The people who have joined the BJP don’t hold any prominence in this movement,” said Ilyas talking to Clarion India.

On AAP’s claims that the protests were BJP-engineered, he said the allegations were ‘completely wrong’ and ‘utterly false’. “The AAP is playing the same card that the BJP has been playing”.

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