Ink, shoe attacks: What triggers such assaults against politicians

Written by: Maitreyee Boruah

Protests against politicians are not new in a democracy. Slogan shouting, non-violent crowd raising their voices against political parties and their leaders is an age-old phenomenon.

At times, these demonstrations against establishments turn violent, sadly. None the less, angst of the masses against our rulers is mostly harmless in nature.
Are attackers frustrated people?

[Politicians who faced shoe attacks]

Ink attack on Arvind Kejriwal

The protesters are not gun-toting terrorists snuffing out innocent lives. These "attackers" themselves are common men and women who occasionally rise in defiance against the VIPs.

Call it a deep-rooted anger against the high and mighty or provocation on part of rivals, once in a while we see ink-shoe attackers hogging the limelight. The latest case is that of a woman throwing ink at Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal during a public meeting to mark the "success" of the odd-even traffic restriction scheme.

The woman was identified as Bhavna, a 27-year-old Punjab in-charge of the Aam Aadmi Sena, a splinter group of Delhi's ruling AAP. The woman accused the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government of being involved in a CNG scam.

Shoe Attack

Conspiracy theories abound

Immediately after the attack, AAP members alleged that the incident was the result of BJP's conspiracy against Kejriwal.

Whenever such episodes happen, the victim clan has always been swift in putting the blame of their rivals. However, such allegations have never been proven right. These attackers are mostly lone wolves, whose acts of defiance are individual in nature.

Take the case of P.Chidambaram, former Home Minister. Jarnail Singh, a journalist had thrown a shoe at Chidambaram on April7, 2009. The shoe did not hit the minister and the journalist, a senior reporter with Dainik Jagran, was taken into custody.

Shoes and ink, protesters' favourite tools

Who could have imagined that innocuous objects like shoes and ink turning into tools of protest? At times dissent takes an unexpected form, especially when a shoe is used as a "weapon" to hurl at our netas, who are always beyond the reach of the "aam aadmi".

As writing by hand is being fast replaced by computers, ink has found a new role. The small bottle of ink comes in handy for the miscreants to belittle their opponents. Remember politician and columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni. Last year, Shiv Sena activists had blackened the face of Kulkarni for organising former Pakistan minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri's book launch in Mumbai. Kulkarni was termed as a "Pakistani agent" by his critics.

An international phenomenon

Shoe-hurling and ink-throwing at public personalities are not just restricted to India. Its roots have grown deep in the foreign shores too. How could we forget images of an angry Iraqi TV journalist Muntadar al-Zaidi hurling a shoe at George W. Bush which narrowly missed the then President of the US?
The incident happened way back in December 2008. But it is still fresh in our minds. Zaidi stood up during Bush's press conference in Iraq and shouted "this is a goodbye kiss from the Iraqi people, dog", before hurling a shoe at his target.

Kejriwal: The favourite target?

The media is dubbing the Delhi Chief Minister as attackers' favourite target. Even the BBC has done a news story titled, Arvind Kejriwal: India's most attacked politician?

Probably the number of instances of attack, right from being slapped by an auto driver to eggs flung at Kejriwal, his love affair of being publicly humiliated started long ago and is still continuing. Kejriwal is not alone in his tragedy. Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh were also publicly humiliated when shoes were thrown at them.

So, whether these kinds of attacks are justifiable or not is a debatable subject, till then we advise our leaders to stay safe.

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