Anti-CAA protests continue across the country and abroad

15th February will mark 10 weeks of unabated protests across the country against the CAA-NRC. What is significant is the hundreds of women who are actively participating day in and day out in these protests. They have not been cowed down by the aggressive verbal attacks and threats of political leaders or their hoodlums, nor by the lathi charges and tear gas of the police. They have sat in protest relentlessly while explaining patiently to journalists the reason they are protesting.

24x7 protests
10 Feb march from Jamia

10 Feb 2020, Protest march starting at Jamia University

2 Feb 2020 Amritsar

2 Feb 2020 Amritsar

2 Feb 2020 Gaya, Bihar

2 Feb 2020 Bagha, Bihar

2 Feb 2020 Coimbattore

2 Feb 2020 Coimbattore

2 Feb 2020 Vadodara

2 Feb 2020 Vadodara

4 Feb 2020, Koderma, Jharkhand

4 Feb 2020, Koderma, Jharkhand

8 Feb 2020, Jama Masjid, Chandigarh

8 Feb 2020, Jama Masjid, Chandigarh

10 Feb 2020, Women in Kanpur demonstrating against police laathi charge on their anti-CAA peaceful demonstration

10 Feb 2020, Women in Kanpur demonstrating against police laathi charge on their anti-CAA peaceful demonstration

12 Feb 2020, Gaya, Bihar

12 Feb 2020, Gaya, Bihar

Indian diaspora in the US protesting against Indian govt linking of religion to citizenship

Indian diaspora in the US protesting against Indian govt linking of religion to citizenship

The BJP used the Delhi election campaign to let loose a volley of threats and slander against the women of Shaheen Bagh – however, it did not deter these resolute protestors. The BJP used the election platform to keep repeating the lie that the CAA is not meant to exclude but only include those people who have taken refuge in India. They also gave the lying assurance that no Indian Muslim needs to fear. However the people are anxious about precisely this – who are Indian Muslims and who are Muslims from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan? How would they ever be able to prove that they are Indians when birth certificates were not even required at the time of their birth? “We will not show any papers!”  is one of the rallying cries at these protests. One youth was reportedly asking the question – “How long do we have to prove our loyalty to our nation? We were born here in Hindustan!”

Prime Minister Modi’s statement that there is no talk of an all-India NRC holds little assurance since he has not even made a commitment that his government will not organise NRC.

On Monday 10th February, the anti-CAA march from Jamia to Parliament started in response to a call by the Jamia Coordination Committee (JCC), an organisation of Jamia students and alumni. The protesters began their march from Jamia’s gate no 7 around noon amid heavy deployment of security personnel in and around the university. The protestors raised slogans “jab nahi dare hum goron se, toh kyun dare hum auron se” (why should we fear others when we did not fear the British). Man formed a human chain as the women walked ahead. Despite the attempts of the police to stop them, the protestors marched over barricades to continue their march towards Parliament.

The protests of the women of Shaheen Bagh have inspired similar protests across the country, such as in Gaya in Bihar, Park Circus in Kolkata, Prayagraj in UP, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Beyond urban centres, Shaheen Bagh has inspired people in several towns, semi-urban conglomerations and even rural Bihar to organise several sit-in protests. These were seen in Gaya town, Sabzi Bagh to Phulwari Sharif in Patna, Bihar Sharif in Nalanda, Nawada, Begusarai and remote Kishanganj.

For days and endless nights on the streets, women in several towns across India have participated in large numbers in protests against the CAA. The crowd of women wanes and waxes between dawn and evening as the women rush back home in the mornings to attend to daily chores, send kids to school and cook meals for their families before they come back to join the protest

When asked why they are protesting in this cold, they say “If women in Delhi can protest in freezing cold, why can’t we?” We will not budge till this law is off our back.” The women keep themselves warm, clapping and singing to the strains of ‘Sarfaroshi ki tamanna ab humare dil mein hai’  and other songs. Lucknow’s Ghantaghar has become yet another hub for women protesting CAA, NRC. “Don’t divide us, let us please remain Indians.” “Inquilab Zindabad, sabne isse sanwara hai, jitna tumhara utna hi yeh mulk humara hai,” says a placard held up by a student of Allahabad University. “We also deserve respect. We will not show any document. Why should there be detention centres for people who have lived for centuries in this country?” is the question posed by these protestors.

The people of village Sherghati Hamzapur at the edge of the Gaya-Sasaram highway in Bihar have been carrying out an indefinite protest against the CAA-NRC-NPR. Posters read “No CAA, No NRC, No NPR.” Another poster asserts: “Jahan paida hue wahin dafan bhi honge (we will be buried in the land we were born in).” The sit-in by the highway was smaller, but not very different from that in Shantibagh in Gaya town, over 40 km from there, or at other sites farther away, from Kolkata to Lucknow. ‘Shanti Bagh’ in Gaya has come alive with hundreds of women, college and university-going girls of all castes and age-groups joining the dharna since 29th December 2019.

At Kolkata’s Park Circus, many emphasise that the maidan hosts both the namaz and the pooja pandal. Across dharnas, there is a notable presence of women, many with children who run around and play or read their schoolbooks — some recite a poem in the break between speeches. Many women say they have not stepped out of home to participate in a public protest before this.

In Aligarh, hundreds of women have been staging a dharna (sit-in) round the clock near Eidgah in Delhi Gate area for the past one week in protest against the CAA and the NRC in a peaceful manner. They are not discouraged or deterred by the notices issued by the Aligarh district authorities that people participating in a sit-in protest outside Shahjamal Eidgah in Delhi Gate area against the CAA and the proposed NRC may lose their property if they do not give a satisfactory explanation on why they are violating prohibitory orders.

Hundreds of women have participated in the protest on Morland Road at Nagpada in Mumbai since Republic Day against the amended citizenship law and the NRC. Nagpada Police has registered case against organisers including 300 women protesters.

The protests have been against the outright attack of the government to divide the people, to deny them their right to live in the country they were born in, and the police brutality on students and women who have stood up in defence of their rights.

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