• Day 24 of Shaheen Bagh Protest: Women Refuse to Move Despite Threats

    Alika Raina

    January 7, 2020

    The sit-in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act at Shaheen Bagh entered its 24th day today, with the women remaining resolute in the face of alleged threats by police officials to end the protest within 24 hours.

    Nehal, a resident of Shaheen Bagh told The Citizen, “Yesterday police officials threatened us to leave the area in 24 hours. So we made a human chain waiting for them to attack us. At last they had to leave because the number has been decent enough for us to save ourselves.”

    Despite reports emerging of police removing barricades and allegedly threatening the protesters to clear the area, the numbers at Shaheen Bagh have been consistent, seemingly increasing with each passing day as individuals come out in solidarity with the women who have made headlines for their peaceful protest.

    Samira, holding her seven-month-old child Yusra said, "Yes, it gets difficult with the kids but I'm here to fight for their future. People requested me to go back but I still stand strong. My child is sick, but I refuse to leave this place."

    Local residents of Shaheen Bagh have reportedly begun distributing tabloids edited by an unknown group, covering the demands of protesters as well as the articles that speak of the protesters’ struggles. According to the residents, the tabloid was brought out to counter the narrative as portrayed by mainstream media, as well as the silence maintained by the media on the personal struggles of protesters.

    Further, a specific schedule has been maintained for the women participating in the sit-in protest. Volunteers are requesting women to sit in rotation for a maximum of two-three hours, after which they should leave for their homes. A reading culture is being developed through students requesting people to donate books to the children of Shaheen Bagh. Children’s paintings and drawings are also on display in the protest area.

    A free medical camp was also set up ten days ago by Nazir Ali Khan, a resident of Shaheen Bagh, along with the doctors from Max Hospital, Holy Family Hospital, AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital and Alshifa Hospital.

     

    Despite the road to the protest area having been blocked by barricades, both residents and non-residents, congregated in huge numbers at Shaheen Bagh. Surrounded by walls that have been painted with anti-CAA and anti-NRC slogans, the women have been leading the sit-in protest, while the men support them by forming a human chain around the gathering.

    Ishaan, a volunteer, told The Citizen, "We live here and fight here like it's our last day. The police tried to take away the barricades but we stopped them by forming a human chain. This movement is not a 'Muslim' movement but an Indian movement."

    At a press conference held there today, the women of Shaheen Bagh walked on stage with their infants in their arms to condemn yesterday’s violence on JNU students. Raising slogans of "Inquilab Zindabad", the voices of the women on stage merged with the crowd singing ‘Hum honge kamyaab’, 'Sare jahan se achha' and ‘Hum hai rahi pyaar ke, chalna apna kaam’. Poems on women empowerment and leadership were also recited at the protest today.

    Ariba, a resident of the area who has been attending the protest regularly, stated, “The entire exercise is an effort to shut the marginalised up in detention centres and cease their properties. The government is not just not anti-Muslim, but also anti-poor and anti-tribals. Their main motive is to snatch resources from the poor and put them in the hands of a few rich people.”

    “No one comes on streets when everything is going fine. Protests have been historically associated with suppression of the masses by those in power. This situation is not very different. Indian Muslims have always been peaceful and rather silent in the past, but events of this nature call for widespread protests,” she added.

    Mahesh, a resident of Mayur Vihar who was present at the protest, said, “The government and its policies are exclusionary not only towards Muslims, but all Indians. The situation is condemnable. We saw what happened in JNU yesternight. I was there for the protest against that as well. We are active citizens and will be there to support any such protests that condemns unfair treatment of students or Muslims.”

    A number of students came out to support the protesters too. Arushi, a student from University of Delhi, said, “The NRC exercise is aimed at altering the demography of Assam. The act in question (CAA) is discriminatory towards those left out of it. All these things are wrong and therefore I am here to show support and solidarity.”

    Following in the footsteps of the women of Shaheen Bagh, women from Seelampur, Zafrabad, Janta Colony and Zakir Nagar have also reportedly begun a sit-in protest against the CAA, NRC, NPR and state repression.


    First published in The Citizen.

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