Gurpreet Singh: India's shock doctrine—Modi relies on COVID-19 and terrorist attack to silence dissent against CAA

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      Canadian author Naomi Klein’s warning about the tendency of big powers to capitalize on catastrophes appears to be occurring in the world’s so-called largest democracy.

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

      Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government claims that only the non-Muslims in those Muslim-dominated countries face religious persecution and that 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. That's why the CAA had sparked angry protests across the world against Modi's government.

      Even otherwise, attacks on religious minorities have grown under Modi ever since he came to power with a majority in 2014. Critics of Modi government fully understand that the CAA is part of a larger design to turn India into a Hindu theocracy.

      However, two major events that have shaken the world are providing cover for the callous government in New Delhi.

      They are the COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected more than 150 countries including India, and a recent terrorist attack on a gurdwara in Kabul, which left 25 Sikhs dead.

      On the pretext of enforcing physical distancing and stopping the spreading of the coronavirus, the Modi government announced a lockdown. This 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's generated concern is how police in Delhi attended one of the major protest sites and erased graffiti and slogans against the CAA.

      Police also used excessive force elsewhere to implement curfews, in some cases against wage earners for whom staying home is not a choice.

      Video: Watch Indian police brutalize people who've remained in the streets during the pandemic.

      Protests that previously 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, Islamic State extremists attacked a gurdwara in Kabul on February 25, killing 25 innocent people. Since then, Modi's 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 as they attack the CAA's opponents for being “antinationals”.

      In Canada, Modi's admirers have started an online petition in defence of the Afghan Sikhs, cunningly adding lines asking Canada to support the CAA. Among them are those who opposed the motion raised at the City of New Westminster by councillor Chuck Puchmyar against the CAA. 

      Meanwhile, BJP leaders have even asked Sikhs in Delhi, who served free food to the anti-CAA Muslim protesters, to show their solidarity. Delhi politician Kapil Mishra went to the extent of linking Muslims in Delhi with the Islamic State in Afghanistan.  This makes no sense, as one cannot blame ordinary Muslims in India for any action of the 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 The Shock Doctrine, a 2007 book written by Klein.

      In a recent video, she expressed how COVID 19 is being used by various governments, including the one led by right-wing U.S. president Donald Trump, to attempt to undermine civil liberties and promote a free market economy.

      Modi therefore cannot be seen as an exception when one considers his outright fascist ideology.