In an incident surfacing from the ongoing protests at Shaheen Bagh, Sharjeel Imam a person who often writes for Left-leaning digital platforms, was seen instigating the protestors to cut-off Assam by occupying the Siliguri corridor, often called the ‘Chicken’s Neck’ of India. The full speech, available on Youtube, has sent shockwaves across several Indians.
Minister of the Assam government, Himanta Biswa Sarma, condemned the suggestion, saying that he will pursue legal action against this person for inciting people to cut off Assam and North East from rest of India.
I am aghast at this brazen attempt by this person to create unrest in the country. He is seen inciting people and talking about his strategy to cut off Assam & North East from rest of India. We have taken cognisance and pursuing the matter to book this person as per law. pic.twitter.com/2Aju1G92KW
— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) January 25, 2020
It is no secret that many radical forces are using the pretext of anti-CAA protests to further their divisive agenda. You may read our earlier articles The Anatomy of ‘Peaceful Protests’ Against CAA – Is This ‘Idea of India’? and Is Anti-CAA Protests Largely Against Non-Muslims? – Siddiqullah Chowdhury May Have an Answer and Is the Anti-CAA Lobby Showing Where Real Intolerance Exists? to get the clear perspective as to what these protests are largely about.
Coming to the particular incident reported from Shaheen Bagh, these words are an open challenge to the sovereignty of India. One needs to have a little background of the area ‘chicken’s neck’ to understand the extent of this challenge that some forces in the name of anti-CAA protests are posing to India.
The Siliguri corridor which mostly falls between Nepal and Bangladesh border area is just 14 miles at its slimmest points. Blocking this corridor implies cutting the geographical continuation of India to the North-eastern part of its territory.
Remember the India- China stand-off at Doklam? India at that time stood its ground firmly because letting the Chinese advance would result in the Chinese forces having a strategic advantage over Siliguri corridor.
Cutting off the Siliguri Corridor has been a favourite dream of Pakistan and Bangladesh. It was also reported that some fundamentalist organisations within the country were co-opted with Pakistani agenda in the past by aiming a demographic change in that area. A report from Outlook magazine in 1999 had reported the evil design that was once attempted unsuccessfully by these fundamentalists.
Post-2014, Modi government has worked successfully to connect North East, and containing the Naxal violence in the region.
Nevertheless, going by the reported speech of this Shaheen Bagh protestor, there is a clear indication that pro-jihadi elements are still nurturing that dream of severing the Siliguri Corridor, and there may perhaps be an attempt to incite people to attain this goal in the near future.
The Shaheen Bagh protest has shown its extremist face on various instances, such as using kids to utter hateful comments against Prime Minister and the Home Minister, raising slogans like “Jinnah wali azadi”, and attacking journalists.
Unfortunately, Aam Aadmi Party which is ruling Delhi, whose leaders questioned surgical strikes in the past, has stood by such elements. Manish Sisodia, the deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, came out in support of the protestors during an interview to a news channel.