Two years of Shaheen Bagh; celebrations and new resolve

AIDWA President fiercely hit out at the ruling government for a range of authoritarian actions and said that all the recent movements have a common goal - to protect Constitution against fascism

File photo of Shaheen Bagh protest
File photo of Shaheen Bagh protest

Sanjukta Basu

A wide range of activists on Thursday celebrated two years of Shaheen Bagh protests at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar with a new resolve to continue with their demands to repeal the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), along with a recall of National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) processes, repeal of draconian laws such as UAPA, Sedition etc, and release of all political prisoners.

Speakers included veteran activist Apoorvanand, former member of Planning Commission Syeda Hameed, Former President of Delhi University Teachers Association Nandita Narain, AIDWA President Subhashini Ali, among others. The event also witnessed family members of the those arrested and still in jail for the 2020 North-East Delhi riots bravely coming on stage sharing their stories. Scientist and Poet Gauhar Raza, Ananaya Gaur and artist collective RAAG also performed at the event.

“My son has done nothing wrong, he raised anti-CAA protests to protect the constitution and democracy for the whole nation. He cooperated with the police whenever they summoned him for questioning but even then, they imposed various charges on him. I have full faith in the judiciary and hope he would soon be released,” said Shamshad, father of Shadab.

Talking about the exemplary uniqueness of the Shaheen Bagh protest activist Apoorvanand said, “These women whose courage spread across the country were not seeking any improvement in their economic conditions. They were not demanding enhanced salaries or any such personal material benefits. They started a movement for equality, a movement to save the soul of India.”

Recalling why the CAA law led to protests Apoorvanand added, “A lot of misinformation has been spread about the protests. The fact is that by bringing in CAA the government made a new road for citizenship and said Muslims cannot walk on this road. It was a clear sign of inequality, and isolated the Muslim community. It hurt them, along with every Indian who cares about equality.”

AIDWA President Shubhasini Ali fiercely hit out at the ruling government for a range of authoritarian actions and said that all the recent movements have a common goal - to protect Constitution against fascism. “These protests are not to be seen in isolation because the oppressor is the same. They do not believe in the Constitution. The Khaki pants wearing RSS men who are running the government had rejected it back in 1949 and wanted to bring Manusmriti. The government is too cunning to reject it at one go so they are attacking it in piecemeal by targeting the rights of various weak and marginalized groups one by one,” Shubhashini Ali said.

“Purdahnasheen women who had never even stepped out of their homes, no longer cared to obey the men at their homes or outside, and came on the road in thousands to join the movement because it was a question of their children’s fate and about the nation. They were ready to withstand the cold and rain and sticks and bullets for the sake of their voice. That struggle has been taken forward by the farmers, who have shown that if we stay united the oppressor will have to bow down. We have to remember that,” she added.

A large number of women who were part of the protests at various parts of Delhi in 2020 also attended the celebrations. Many of them said that had it not been for the COVID 19 related restrictions they would have continued to protest and would have won by now. The success of farmers protests have given a new enthusiasm and hope among these women who are ready to get on the street again. “I do not belong to any political party or NGO. I am an ordinary woman who used to be in Purdah but when they attacked our children, mothers like me had to come on the street. I joined the protest from the first till the last day. Even on 24th March 2020 when the protest site was being dismantled, I was there,” said Mehrunnisa.

Apart from celebrating the two years of Shaheen Bagh the event also marked the presence of new allies for the anti-CAA movement. Surinder Kaur from Delhi’s Badarpur area, member of Bhartiya Mahila Foundation, said that the Shaheen Bagh women inspired the farmers to sit in protest, and the year-long farmers protests and its eventual success is now inspiring new groups to join forces. “I belong to a Sikh family. When Shaheen Bagh protests started we did not fully know about the CAA law. Our awareness raised during the farmers protests. We have now joined the movement to demand the repeal of CAA and we hope the farmers will also join hands.”

The event was jointly organized by civil society groups and NGOs such as Pragatisheel Mahila Sangathan, Saheli, Anhad, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS), Aman Biradari, All India Students Association (AISA), All India Students Federation (AISF), AIMSS and others.

A joint petition to the President of India to repeal CAA-NPR-NRC have been initiated by the organizers. The petition can be read and endorsed by the public via this link

Endorsements are open till 21 December 2021.

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