Women Protesters Against CAA-NRC Speak From Stairs of Jama Masjid
India Tomorrow | Tazeem Haider
NEW DELHI, JANUARY 18— For the last 15 days, hundreds of young and old women and men have been continuously holding protest demonstration on the stairs of the historic Jama Masjid against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and government’s move for National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC). The women-centric anti-CAA-NRC protest of Shaheen Bagh has impressed the residents of Jama Masjid area in the Walled City and people in several other towns and cities across the country.
Several women protesters of Jama Masjid area talked to India Tomorrow about the issue and their grievances.
“I am coming here for the last fifteen days. People from different communities are coming out of their homes against CAA and NRC. There are Dalits, Christians and people from other communities who are coming in support of us”, said Maryam, a teacher from the Walled City area.
She is among hundreds of women who come every evening and sit on the stairs of historic Jama Masjid for hours. Like the women of Shaheen Bagh area in Jamia Nagar of South Delhi, Walled City women also come out against CAA-NRC on daily basis. Most of the women carry candles in their hands while raising anti-CAA and NRC slogans.
The students and youths of the Old Delhi area take out anti-CAA/NRC march from Farash Khana to Jama Masjid every day. Majority of the participants are women and girls who hold candles, banners and placards against CAA-NRC-NPR.
Farha Naaz, also a teacher by profession from the Jama Masjid area, said: “Right to equality is one of the six fundamental rights which we are promised in Article 14-18 of the Constitution, which is being challenged by the CAA and NRC. If our fundamental rights are challenged then we can approach the Supreme Court. Whenever I get time, I come here to become part of the on-going protest on the stairs of Jama Masjid”.
Since the law was passed by the Parliament on December 11, there have been massive nationwide protests against it and government’s move for NPR and NRC.
Along with adult men and women, children are also coming with them to the protest site.
Iqra Khatoon, a student of Zakir Hussain College – an affiliate of the Delhi University, “I want the parents of the students not to stop their children from participating in the protests against CAA and NRC. We all gather over here against CAA and NRC. The government is defaming us. They are asking us to prove our citizenship. Our forefathers were born here and have lived in this country for centuries.”
Suraiyya Begam, a housewife from Matia Mahal area, said: “I am 60 years old. Earlier there were no papers with anybody. Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian all are brothers and sisters. The government is trying to create problem for us”.
Naseeruddin, 70, also a local resident said, “For the last 15 days, I have been coming here daily. The purpose is to save our Constitution and cancellation of the CAA.”
Every day, intellectuals and activists from different walks of life are coming here and addressing the protesters.
On Wednesday, renowned RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj and educationist Khalil Ahmad spoke.
“With the discriminatory CAA, the government is targeting a particular community by excluding it from the ambit of the law; We, therefore, have stood up against this law and will continue opposing it until it is withdrawn,” said woman rights activist Anjali Bharadwaj.
She further said: “We are observing that the government is continuously attacking on the rights of the citizens who were sitting peacefully in their homes. India is a democratic country, it’s not dictatorship. I know at least 70 per cent people do not know their official date of birth. I am sure around 50 per cent of us present over here do not know their exact birth date. How is it possible for them to produce birth certificate of their father?”
Recalling the hardships people faced during Aadhaar exercise, she said CAA-NRC exercise will put people in a bigger trouble.
“We all remember the problems we faced for the preparation of the Aadhaar card. Govt. said you would not be able to avail medical facilities, ration facilities and basic facilities without Aadhaar card. All of us faced numerous difficulties to get our Aadhaar card prepared. A large number of people could not get their Aadhaar card because they did not have any supportive document. All such people have lost their right over lots of facilities,” she said.
“They are going to implement CAA and NRC to put the citizens in a much bigger problem. This government does not care about anyone. It fears only with one thing and that is the voice of people. I salute all of you for standing against such inhuman laws.”
Addressing the gathering, educationist Khalil Ahmad said: “Whatever happened in Jamia Millia, AMU and JNU, we all are here in solidarity with those students. We are here against CAA, NPR and NRC.”
He criticized Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah for speaking differently on the same issue.
“Both the brothers (Shah and Modi) are liars. One talks about the chronology -- that first CAA will come, then NRC, and this NRC would come not only for Bengal but for whole India. But another brother contradicts him at Ramlila Maidan saying that no discussion has been made on NRC till date,” said Ahmad.
He said that people are here to protect the Constitution of the country, which is “a common book for Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhist, Jains and Parsis of this country.”
For the past several weeks, locals have been holding protest demonstration against CAA-NRC.
Since CAA was passed by the Parliament on December 11, there have been nationwide massive protest demonstrations against the controversial law that seeks to give citizenship to only non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
On December 20, the Jama Masjid area had witnessed big protest demonstration when Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad had joined the demonstration at the stairs of Jama Masjid. Thousands of people had later marched towards the Dill Gate but were not allowed by the police to proceed further. In the evening, some violence had taken place during the protest leading to police lathi-charge and arrests. Around two dozen people were arrested. Azad himself was arrested from the stairs of Jama Masjid in the wee hours of December 21.