Around a week ago, BJP MP Anurag Thakur led a chant of 'Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko'. Since then there have been 4 incidents for firing and gun-related violence at Jamia and Shaheen Bagh. One of the main methods of demonising peaceful protesters has been to brand anyone criticising the government a traitor.
The rhetoric of hate, wherein every protester is painted as someone trying to break the nation, really works on those who can't think for themselves. It fills them with rage, and results in people like Ram Bhagat Gopal.
It's also telling that swift action is taken against almost every anti-CAA protester or anyone opposing the government for the tiniest of slights. However, several high-profile ministers and people in power have gotten away with saying the most incendiary of statements.
For his part in this volatile situation, Anurag was given a short ban from campaigning by the EC. No FIR, no police action - nothing. This kind of response empowers others to make similar statements without fear.
That's not to relieve those carrying guns to protests of the blame. These are people who are surrounded by news channels and powerful people convincing them that anyone criticising the country deserves to be punished.
Soon after the Gopal incident, the precedent was set and a man named Kapil Gurjar fired shots into the air at Shaheen Bagh.
Before that, another man who had entered the Shaheen Bagh protests carrying a gun was also overpowered before he could use it. In pretty much every instance, the reaction of the police was far below what was needed.
With the communally charged environment of these protests, why hasn't security been beefed up at focal points? Some have said that considering the police comes under the Home Ministry, that's not surprising.
BJP MLA Sangeet Som, known for being vitriolic in the best of times, also openly condoned publicly shooting protesters. The worst part is, none of these people face any kinds of consequences. The higher-ups protect their own, no matter how dangerous they might be.
One of the most extreme cases has been BJP MP Parvesh Sharma, who said the Shaheen Bagh protesters 'will enter your houses, rape and kill your sisters and daughters'.
And if you think that these statements are only words, and have no effect on the ground level, you are sadly mistaken. It's clearer than ever that the words of these so-called 'leaders' are being taken to heart and acted on.
Most recently, 2 people on a scooty opened fire at Jamia, making it the third attack in the area in just about a week. Until now, there have been no casualties, but at the rate things are going, that may change soon.
The authorities need to take cognizance of the statements these politicians have been making. They are quick to book anyone caught protesting or saying something problematic against the government, but wholly impotent when it's against someone validating the murder of dissenters. For now, we can only hope this kind of condemnable behaviour does not continue.