The Year 2020: An Overview — Dr Zafarul-Islam

The year ended while we were still fighting a four-front war – Covid19, China, economy  and communal politics. On all these fronts we are clueless about the next move of the government. This situation has highly dented India’s place and image in the world today.

THE year 2020 was unusual in our recent history. Not only we grappled with an unprecedented epidemic, our country also saw during this year two of the biggest protest movements in our history.

Anti-CAA-NRC protests: The first was the anti-CAA-NRC movement across the country. This continued for more than three months and could be stopped only under the Corona lockdown restrictions. These protests were triggered by the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), piloted by Home Minister Amit Shah with a grandiose plan to marginalise Indian Muslim by snatching away citizenship of millions of them. This movement was spearheaded by ordinary people, especially by Muslim women who braved the cold weather and continued to protest at hundreds of sites across the country for over three months. The protests could be dispersed only using the Covid lockdown late in March 2020. While government refused to listen to the protesters or negotiate with them, administration and police everywhere, especially in BJP-ruled states, used draconian measures and violence to disrupt these protests. Huge fines were imposed on hundreds of protesters disregarding legal procedures. 

Farmers’ protest: Towards the end of the year, we faced farmers’ protest against the pro-corporate and privatisation policies of the Modi government. Protests started in various states in the wake of the passage of three thoughtless agricultural laws passed in May 2020. When Modi government refused to listen to them, the protesting farmers came to Delhi where they are still camping at the borders since last November. There are no signs that they will budge until their demands are met. Modi government is ready to defer the controversial laws for 1.5 years but the farmers are adamant on their total abrogation. Like the anti-NRC protests, the farmers’ protests too are popular and spontaneous with no role of political parties.

Delhi riot: The year also saw a major communal riot in the north-east district of Delhi in the last week of February 2020. These were engineered by some BJP and Hindutva leaders while a high-profile state visit by the US President was midway. No action has been taken against people like Kapil Mishra who planned and ignited the riots in order to end the anti-CAA protests. Police has failed to take action against the real planners, instigators and executors of these riots. Instead, it is blaming the victims and anti-NRC protestors for plotting and carrying out the riots.

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