Shaheen Bagh Anti-CAA Women Refuse To Vacate The Road, Say Protection of Constitution Is More Important Than Anything Else
“…….detention centres would in reality be “extermination centres” for Muslims. And hence, CAA and NRC are, in fact, beginning of the genocide of Muslims in India and this is because of this reason, Muslim women all over the country have come out on road, protesting the new law. What we, the Muslim women, feel is that it is better to die protecting the Constitution that gives us all citizenship right, than be thrown into the detention centres, or our own houses to be converted into detention centres because there would certainly be shortage of detention centres when Muslims en masse are declared foreigners through NRC process”, says activist Dr. Fatima Tanveer at Shaheen Bagh protest site.
Syed Khalique Ahmed
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 15—Even as the Delhi High Court has directed the Delhi police to remove restrictions from Shaheen Bagh-Kalindi Kunj Road to ensure smooth traffic flow between NOIDA and Delhi, women protesters at Shaheen Bagh say they will not vacate the road till their demand for withdrawal of contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) is accepted by the government. Shaheen Bagh protesters have attracted international headlines with almost every international media-print, electronic, radio and TV channels-having given wide coverage to it.
Women from Shaheen Bagh, who have occupied the road since December 15 to focus attention of the authorities on their demand for repeal of what they say as “Black Law”, argue that they know that their action has obstructed traffic causing inconvenience to those using this stretch of the road for their movement but “we are doing this to protect the Constitution which is being murdered by the present government at the Centre”.
“There is always an alternative of a road for use by commuters of Shaheen Bagh-Kalindi Kunj Road but there is no alternative to the Constitution for running a country as big as India with more than 130 crore population having diverse religion, culture, language and tradition”, say the women protesters. “If Constitution goes, everything goes as there will be nothing to guarantee the fundamental rights of the citizens and the rulers of the day will become autocratic and rule the country with their own whims and fancies as they are trying to do now despite the existence of Constitution. One can only imagine what will happen to the common masses if the law and the Constitution are amended as per whimsical desire of the ruling party”, argue the protesters.
One of the protesters Dr. Fatima Tanveer, a resident of Abul Fazal Enclave adjoining Shaheen Bagh, who spares time from her busy schedule for sitting on dharna at the protest site during night, said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi criminalised the Triple Talaq by passing a law on the insistence of half a dozen Muslim women from Leftist background and then went to the town saying that he did so to protect the rights of “my Muslim sisters”. “But why is he and his party silent now when lakhs of women, majority of them Muslim women, all over the country, including those in Shaheen Bagh and other places in the national Capital, are demanding disbanding of CAA”, asked Dr. Tanveer. “PM’s silence on the issue not only indicates his double standard with regard to Muslims and their women, it also smacks of a sinister design by Modi and his party against Muslims”, replies Dr. Tanveer. Asked what she meant by “sinister design”, she said that CAA combined with NRC (National Register for Citizens) would declare foreigners to those who are not able to provide documents to prove themselves as Indian citizens and a majority of Muslims, poor people, Dalits and scheduled tribes in interior jungle areas would not be able to arrange the documents required to pass NRC test. “As Muslims are not covered under the provisions of CAA, they would be made victims and sent to detention centres, by confiscating their assets, properties and bank accounts”, said Dr. Tanveer.
“CAA, in tandem with NRC, becomes a very deadly weapon and we can’t remain silent on it”, she said. “What is being done with Muslims by the present regime in India, is on the lines of that done by Hitler in Germany with Jews, Soviet prisoners of war, communists, clergymen and others between 1930 and 1945 or what is being currently done with Uighur Muslims in China”, she explained.
She said that these detention centres would in reality be “extermination centres” for Muslims. “And hence, CAA and NRC are, in fact, beginning of the genocide of Muslims in India and this is because of this reason, Muslim women all over the country have come out on road, protesting the new law. What we, the Muslim women, feel is that it is better to die protecting the Constitution that gives us all citizenship right, than be thrown into the detention centres, or our own houses to be converted into detention centres because there would certainly be shortage of detention centres when Muslims en masse are declared foreigners through NRC process”, Dr. Tanveer explained.
She said that “women will continue to give their sacrifice to protect themselves and their future generations till CAA is withdrawn by Modi government”.
The 82-year-old Bilqis, a resident of Shaheen Bagh, who is sitting on protest for the last 32 days against CAA, said, “we are sitting on a peaceful ‘satyagraha’ to protect country’s Constitution. We are fighting for everybody-Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists because nobody knows who will be the next target after Muslims”.
She said, “If I don’t fight for it today, our next generation will curse us as to why did we not protest against the dreaded law”. Bilqis, who is among several old women on protest against CAA, said, “What kind of government is this which is taking away our citizenship?”, she asked.
Pointed out that the court has asked the police to remove them from the road to enable traffic movement, she said, “Courat ko Sarkar se bhi kehna chahiyi ki kala qanoon wapas lo. Awam ko Sarkar kyun pareshan kare hai (The court should also ask the government to take back the Black Law. Why is the government harassing the people?)”.
“Mere ku is jaade mein road par baithne ka shouq nahin hai. Main to jabhi uthoon gi jab Kala Qanoon wapas ho jayega”. (I am not fond of sitting on dharna on the road in this biting cold. But I will leave this place only when the Black Law is annulled”, she says.
Sitting with Bilqis is also a 75-year-old Sarvari, also from Shaheen Bagh, since December 15 on the same site, protesting against the CAA. “If the government wants us to withdraw from the road, let some responsible government representative come to us and announce that the law has been rescinded. The law is for the people, and not vice-versa. What is the use of a law when it creates problems for the people”, says the septuagenarian woman.
Mumbai-based Shobha Karande, who came to the protest site from Saguna, an NGO, to show solidarity with the protesting women at Shaheen Bagh, said, “I don’t find anything wrong on the part of these women to hold a protest against a law which had invited widespread protest and condemnation from people of all regions and communities in the country. What these women are doing is a “satyagraha”, a form of peaceful public protest against an anti-people policy and law of the government. Satyagraha was used by Mahatma Gandhi against the Britishers. So, there is nothing wrong what the women are doing in Shaheen Baug. But the problem is that this (BJP) government does not want to listen to anyone. They just want to impose their whims on everybody”.
Delhi-based Nandini from NGO-Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, and Anuradha from NGO-Saheli, who came to participate in protest at Shaheen Bagh, said, “When the government does not talk to us, what is then left for us than to hold a public protest”.
They said, “Nobody will listen to us when we are at our homes. That is why all the protests are held at public places and why should anyone object to the women of Shaheen Bagh protesting on the road. Moreover, their protest is totally peaceful. As for some traffic inconvenience, the cause for which the women are fighting, is thousand times bigger than inconvenience to some people for a few weeks or a few months. Moreover, this inconvenience is happening because of unconstitutional CAA passed by the government”.
“It is completely a secular agitation. Women here are talking about Constitution. Not about Muslim, Hindu and Christian etc. We have held lot of discussions with the women at Shaheen Bagh. We are totally convinced that they are highly secular and fighting for their constitutional right and we support them in their movement. They are affirming faith in Indian Constitution. It becomes very poignant when you attack a religion by bringing a law. Through CAA, government is trying to divide the people on religious lines. But it will not succeed. The government can’t divide the people as is very much clear from people from all communities across the country coming out in huge numbers to oppose CAA and NRC”, Nandini and Anuradha said.
Meanwhile, Shaheen Bagh protest continues on 32nd day today.