Shaheen Bagh: Thursday Afternoon Rains Fail to Dampen The Spirit of Women Protesters
Syed Khalique Ahmed | India Tomorrow
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 16—Unseasonal rains on Thursday afternoon in this bone-chilling cold could not dampen the spirit of the women protesters at the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh Road.
Hundreds of women protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) continued their agitation under makeshift tarpaulin tent in the middle of the road despite the fact that it was leaking from several places. Volunteers extending support to the protesters fixed the leaks with the help of extra tarpaulin sheets they managed to arrange from the shops in adjoining Abul Fazal Enclave.
The volunteers also arranged food for the women protesters as they could not move out of the tents due to the rains. They brought food packets in an e-rickshaw from a hotel in D-block of Abul Fazal Enclave.
Women protesters said that the government might have expected that protesters would leave the venue due to the rains. “But we are not going to give up the protest till our demand of scrapping of the dreaded CAA and withdrawal of the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) is accepted by the Central government”, said the protesters, including septuagenarian Bilqis and Sarvari, sitting on a wooden bed covered with a cotton mattress and covering themselves in dupattas and woolen shawls.
One of the women protesters identifying herself as Mrs. Shaheen Hindustani (which she said is not her real name) said, “We are thankful to Allah that we are having a tarpaulin sheet over our heads to protect us from rains. But we are sitting here on the road not for any fun but for a very serous issue. We are here for the future of our children, future of our next generations which is in danger due to CAA and NRC. Our children in Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University were shot at, attacked with bullets, teargas shells, lathis and iron roads because they were protesting against CAA. One of them in Jamia lost vision in his eyes. When police are committing such atrocities on our children, can we sit silently in our homes? Shall we not come out? Shall we fear the rains? We will not remain silent. If the government does not come to its senses and refuses to withdraw CAA, the protest will spread to more areas, not only inside the country but also among the Indian diaspora overseas”.
She also criticized the media questioning the protesters about sources of funding because it has been more than a month since the agitation began and running it for such a long period required money. She said, “We are not beggars that we are here for food and money. Alhamdulillah, every one of us here is in a position to arrange his/her own food and other expenditures on their own. But if some philanthropists and sympathisers of our cause supplies us food, we will accept it. What is wrong with this? Is it a crime for the people sharing common cause with us to support the protest with the help of money and food and other things required to keep the protest going on?”
“We are not going to leave the place till our demand is accepted. We have made it known to every body. We have told the police also that we will continue the protest on the road itself and we are not going to shift from here”, said Mrs. Hindustani.
Former Rajya Sabha MP Obaidullah Khan Azmi addressed the Shaheen Bagh protesters in the evening, urging them to continue their fight against “oppression” of the present government at the Centre. He asked the people, particularly women, not to surrender to the government and fight till their aim is achieved. He said that CAA and NRC are the two most dangerous faces of the Narendra Modi government.
The Shaheen Bagh protest has caught attention of international media. The women protesters here have inspired women in the rest of the country as well where they have also begun round the clock protest against CAA. Women in Pune, Kanpur, Gaya, Kolkata and many other places have launched round the clock protest following in the footsteps of Shaheen Bagh.