Rambhakt Gopal Sharma, the terrorist who carried out the shooting at the peaceful student protesters of Jamia Millia Islamia on Thursday in Delhi, wanted to carry out Jallianwala Bagh like large scale carnage at Shaheen Bagh, his Facebook posts have revealed.
Sharma, who shouted “Yeh lo azadi (Take your freedom)” before shooting and injuring one student, wrote in one of his posts on January 28 that, “Updesh Rana, agar tujhse aadhe bhi follower mere hote toh Shaheen Bagh ka Jallianwala Bagh bana deta ab tak (Updesh Rana, If I had even half the followers that you have, I would have converted Shaheen Bagh into Jallianwala Bagh a long ago.”
The Updesh Rana that the terrorist Sharma was referring to is a radical Hindutva online influencer, who had once walked into Kolkata’s Tipu Sultan Mosque and slapped the Imam. Although he was jailed for the act for a couple of days, however, after the incident, his following on social media skyrocketed, gaining him instant online stardom in extremist circles.
It’s clear from Sharma’s posts that Updesh’s incendiary and anti-Muslims posts had influenced the teenage terrorist.
In another Facebook post, Sharma wrote, “drape me in saffron and shout slogans of Jai Shri Ram.”
The initial police investigation has revealed that Sharma would listen to hate speeches online and share offensive posts on his Facebook account. He has told interrogators of Delhi Police that over the past two years he started reading incendiary posts on social media. In November 2019, he even took part in a protest in Jewar that was organised by radical outfit Bajrang Dal.
The incident has triggered massive protests and sharp reactions from all quarters who have blamed the ruling BJP for giving violent and provocative speeches. Union minister Anurag Thakur has come under fire over his “Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko (shoot the traitors of our country)” sloganeering just two days before the terrorist opened fire at Jamia University.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah too had spewed venom against the peaceful protestors of Shaheen Bagh, urging his supporters to vote for the far-right party in the upcoming elections in Delhi, so there is “never a Shaheen Bagh again”.
Over the past month, hundreds of women, including grandmothers and children — have occupied a stretch of road in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, undeterred by rain, cold and threats, protesting against the highly sectarian and divisive Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that gives fast track citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from neighbouring Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, but intentionally excludes Muslim migrants.
The rightwing BJP-led Centre government has said the new law will be followed by a National Register of Citizens (NRC). That means Muslims must prove they were original residents of India and not refugees from these three countries. Non-Muslims listed in the law, by contrast, have a clear path to citizenship.
Deemed discriminatory in nature, the act has propelled fears that the BJP seeks to undermine the constitution’s secular character and turn India into a majoritarian state.
Primarily led by women, the Shaheen Bagh sit-in has come to symbolise the ongoing nationwide struggle against the divisive act that shares worrying similarities with the rhetoric and policies of the Nazi German state between 1929-1940.