In a six-month-long investigation, Sagar, a staff-writer at The Caravan, scrutinised Facebook live broadcasts by members affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of the Delhi violence of February 2020. In this series based on the investigation, The Caravan reports on the Hindutva mobilisation that preceded the violence, its political and communal nature, and the role played by the RSS, BJP and affiliated organisations such as the Bajrang Dal in fomenting hate against those protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019.
The sit-in protest at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act began on 15 December 2019, four days after it was passed in Parliament. That day, the prime minister Narendra Modi addressed a rally in Jharkhand’s Dumka district and implicitly accused Muslims of committing arson during the protests against the CAA. “The ones setting things on fire, their pictures are coming on television,” Modi said. “Who are these arsonists? They can be identified from their clothes only.” The comment was a thinly veiled reference to the Muslim community.
Exactly one week later, the prime minister Narendra Modi held a rally in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan. He accused the opposition parties of misleading the public and claimed that the law would only grant citizenship, and did not seek to take it away from anyone. The prime minister then animatedly prodded his temple and added, “Agar thodi si bhagwan ne di hai, toh jara upyog karo”—If god has given you any intelligence, then use it. He paused as the audience burst into laughter.