Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high, where knowledge is free. Into that heaven of freedom, my father, let my country awake." -Rabindranath Tagore
It has been more than a month that the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 was passed by the Indian parliament and ever since then the entire country has taken to the streets, protesting against it. With slogans of inquilab (revolution), azadi (freedom) and ekta (unity) being chanted daily, people from all genders, castes and religions are sending across a strong message that they won't take things lying down.
Students have been protesting outside Jamia Millia Islamia and women and children have been protesting on the streets of Shaheen Bagh. We've never seen civil disobedience like this in India's recent history.
Over a thousand people including women and children gathered in East Delhi's Khureji neighborhood to protest against the amended citizenship law and a possible pan-India National Register of Citizens. Outside the park, hundreds of other men and young boys stood along both sides of the road, many of them holding candles as a form of peaceful protest. Together, they called for the revocation of the citizenship Act.
Talking about it, a Khureji local said, "I had come here yesterday and I am here today as well. Our demand is that the government repeal the CAA and drop the idea of the NRC."
Another man in his 50s who had come with his family to register his protest said, "I am hopeful the government would listen to our demands and repeal the law as more and more protests are unfolding against it."
One of the happiest day of my life. My Beautiful Ammi 76 years old partially paralysed joined in for a Dharna at Khureji. Abb kon harayega humein. #KhurejiProtest #NoToCAA #NoToNPR #NoToNRC pic.twitter.com/hMGXFXagcw— Khalid Saifi (@KSaifi) January 15, 2020
Women of #Khureji in east #Delhi say they will make another #ShaheenBagh with thousands come forward to join the protest in the area. “We will turn every place into a Shaheen Bagh..” pic.twitter.com/bt42XFRE27— Rahiba R. Parveen (@RahibaParveen) January 15, 2020
It all started on January 13, 2020, when around 500 women started a sit-in in East Delhi, taking inspiration from South Delhi localities like Shaheen Bagh and Jamia. Zeenat, a homemaker has been coming to the Khureji protest site since the first day and hasn't gone home in two days. Talking about it, she said, "I have been here since day before yesterday. I haven’t gone back home yet. I haven’t slept either. I am with everyone because it’s my sisters who are sitting here."
Zeenat isn't the only one. In fact, women from all walks of life and across all ages are coming to Khujeri as they ask the government the same question--when will they stop being treated as secondary citizens in their own country?
Among these are also elderly women who can barely support themselves but they've still managed to come and stand in solidarity with others against the CAA. Here is 76-year-old Nasreen, talking to The Quint, said, "I’m worried what will happen to my children. What will happen to me, my honour? I’m worried about my honour."
Massive turnout at #Khureji.— nobody (@pashminashols) January 14, 2020
Women have taken to the streets and have formed human chains. Cops removed barricades and cut the electricity supply. They returned to enter an RSS-affiliated building that had pro-CAA banners all over. pic.twitter.com/FmD4I6iPnd
Delhiites with their version of 'Occupy Street Movement' have been careful to not disrupt traffic and cause problems to people going on with their daily life. They also have been very strict about not causing any hassle by littering the areas where they are protesting.
People are also fighting and saying that superficially the Act may discriminate only against Muslims but soon the government will start marginalising other backward communities, OBCs, scheduled castes as well.
There have been different teams assigned with specific tasks and volunteers and they are seen wearing badges that say 24 ghante khidmat (24 hours help). One team guards the women by forming a human chain around the periphery of the protest site, the second team coordinates with media persons and the third team is in charge of distributing refreshments like chai, food, and water to the protestors. There are also a few people looking after the electricity supply and manning the main entrance of the protest site.
We are yet to hear what the Supreme Court verdict about the CAA after Kerala became the first state to challenge the Act. The petition states that the CAA violates the right to equality under Article 14 of the Constitution of India, right to life under Article 21 and freedom to practice religion under Article 25.
Till then, more power to these women for standing up for their rights.
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