SHAHEEN Bagh is no longer just the name of a place. It is a movement, and there are many Shaheen Baghs across the country now!
In Delhi itself, along with Shaheen Bagh, women are on indefinite dharnas at Seelampur, Khureji, Indralok, and hold daily dharnas at Jama Masjid. AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan and CPIML CCM leader Sucheta De, and AISA leader Kawalpreet Kaur have participated in these dharnas. AICCTU comrades have begun helping women hold an indefinite dharna at Mandavali in East Delhi.
As we go to press, the police have removed the tent t Shaheen Bagh and forced Sikhs distrbuting food to leave. But within half an hour a tent was back up and women remain at their stand!
A dharna against the Citizenship Amendment Act has been going on since 7 January at the Park Circus Maidan in Central Kolkata. Led by the women of Park Circus, this dharna is inspired by the dharna in Shaheen Bagh which has been going on since December 2019. These women are protesting against CAA-NRC and the brutal attacks on students at JNU, Jamia and AMU.
Park Circus has an abundant Muslim population. The dharna by the women is being held in a Maidan outside a local Masjid. The protests at other places in Kolkata are being attended mainly by students and people from middle and upper classes but in Park Circus most of those attending are from the working class. Hundreds of women, posters and placards in hand, are gathering there with their children. Gradually people from other parts of Kolkata are beginning to join them. The aim of the protesters is to sit on an indefinite dharna at least until 22 January. On that day the Supreme Court will be hearing the petitions challenging CAA. People attending the dharna say that the leadership of this dharna is in the hands of the common people. The national tricolor presides over the dharna.
In the afternoon of 8 January a truck full of women wearing burqas reached the venue. As they alighted from the truck and walked towards the dharna venue, women raised the slogan ‘Freedom from Communal Politics!’ Wearing a black burqa and dark goggles, 44 year old Tabassum Akhtar from Iqbalpur in South Kolkata was leading the slogans. She said, “We are very angry. We have no direct relation with the students of JNU, but they are everything to us”.
22 year old Rafeeqa Hayat told us that she chanted slogans for the very first time in her life on 7 January. Hayat has recently finished her graduation from Shivnath Shastra College. Until a few months ago she had no interest in politics. She used to spend all her internet data on Instagram and Facebook. Now she reads the newspapers regularly and watches video tracks of CAA and NRC to educate herself.
A large space in the Maidan has been cleared for the women. Cotton and thin foam mattresses have been spread on the floor. Apart from the protesters there were about 100 volunteers at the venue who ensured an unobstructed flow of blankets, Chinese food, biriyani, and tea as and when required.
55 year old Musarrat Parveen is a widow with three sons. She said that she had rarely stepped out of her home before this but now she feels there is no option other than coming out on the streets. “We have to do something to save the country,” she said. Parveen came here in the evening of 7 January at the start of the protest, and returned home the next day at 8.30 in the morning. She then cooked for her family and did housework the whole day and returned to the dharna venue at 11.30 at night. When we spoke to her on 9 January she told us she had not slept for the last 2 days. She said, “I am unable to sleep and I have hope that Prime Minister Modi will understand what we are turning our Hindustan into, what we are doing to our land”. Other women also said that they are housewives and are coming out on the streets for the first time. They said that Prime Minister Modi’s work has ‘forced’ them to come out.
Some women told us that they are daily wage workers and are sacrificing their work for the sake of the protest. A 50 year old woman told us on condition of anonymity that she lives just a few meters away from the dharna venue and cooks food for families in nearby Malik Bazaar. She is the mother of three daughters and is able to earn about Rs 5000 per month. “We have come here for our rights. Why should we leave India? We have to stop Modiji from implementing CAA and NRC”.
Wearing a brown burqa and blue shawl, Firdaus Saba is raising slogans on the microphone. The people standing behind her join in the slogans. Saba is a student of Physics at Aliya University in Kolkata. When she left her hostel on 8 January she told the authorities that she would not be coming back until the next day. She spent the entire night chanting the slogan ‘Halla Bol’.
Saba tells us, “I wanted to join the protest at Shaheen Bagh. I could not do so, but at least I could take part in the Shaheen Bagh of Kolkata. We are not Indians by coincidence; we are Indians through our own will and liking. In 1947 we rejected the 2-Nation theory, we rejected an Islamic nation. Today our Hindu brothers and sisters will reject a Hindu nation. We did not choose Islamabad, Karachi or Bangladesh. We chose India because it is a secular and democratic country”.
Saba said, “The founders of independent India gave people the right to speak. Why are we being stopped from speaking? Equality is our right. Why is it being snatched away from us? Why is the Constitution being broken? We have not come here as Muslims; we are Indians. We have not come here to save ourselves. We will leave this place only after the Constitution is saved”.
Thousands of people from all communities, women outnumbering men, have gathered here in the extreme cold. They are singing, reading poems, and listening to speeches. They have a common aim: to save the Constitution. In the biting cold of January, Dulari Devi and Saziya are sitting together under the open skies and singing the national anthem and songs of Faiz Ahmed Faiz and chanting slogans. This protest which has been going on day and night since 29 December and in which women and students are more in number has got huge support from the citizens of Gaya. This is the same town where Buddha achieved Nirvana. This is a unique protest against CAA-NRC-NPR in Bihar and has already completed 15 days.
Housewife Dulari Devi who lives near Shanti Bagh says, “I’ve been coming here every day for the last 2 weeks. CAA and NRC are not just unconstitutional; they are against the fundamental rights of citizens. I will not go from this place until the government revokes CAA-NRC”. There are other women like her here—Nusrat Hassan, Mamta Devi, Nagma Parveen, Fatima Khan, Karuna Kumari, Mariam Farhad, Suman Shaurya, Roji Khatoon and others who attend this protest for hours together. Young men sitting at a small podium are raising slogans of Inquilab Zindabad; Ladenge Jeetenge; we shall fight, we shall win; Long Live Revolution; Hindustan Zindabad! Various speakers are giving speeches, and the dharna venue has been festooned with posters, placards and banners.
Another protester Shazia says, “Singing the national anthem, Faiz and other poems in this cold weather generates anew warmth within us”. Nagma, who has covered her head for protection against the cold, says, “This protest is about Hindu-Muslim unity and peaceful protest. If we have Nagma, Farzana, Parveen, Kahkashan and Wasim Nayyar Ansari here, we also have Mamta Devi, Suman Shaurya, Mukesh Kumar, Munni Devi, Rajendra Yadav and Mukesh Chaudhury”. Karuna Kumari says that it is totally wrong to say that only Muslims are opposing CAA-NRC. “Hundreds of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians are part of the protest and I am also one of them”.
This dharna under the banner of Samvidhan Bachao Morcha is creating a new history in Gaya. At any given point in time, around 4000-5000 are present at the dharna venue. The number is much higher on Saturdays and Sundays. More than 200 students and young people are present here even at night. The dharna has been addressed so far by Nikhil Kumar, Jitan Ram Manjhi, Uday Narayan Chaudhury, Tejasvi Yadav, many Left leaders and many local leaders. Kanhaiya Kumar and Kannan Gopinathan are scheduled to address the dharna.
The women of Allahabad, like the women of Shaheen Bagh, have been sitting on a dharna at Mansoor Ali Park in Roshan Bagh against CAA and NRC. Despite all their attempts, the police and administration have not been able to break up their dharna. Large crowds and opposition have foiled the attempts of the administration.
The protesters are holding up placards saying, ‘Inquilab Zindabad’; ‘This land, nurtured by all, is as much mine as it is yours’; ‘India will not allow violation of the Constitution’.
The special thing about this protest is that it is led by Muslim women, and with them are small children as well as men. The women sit all night under the open skies, read Namaz here, and raise their voice against the government from here.
Roshan Bagh resident Rubina says that she is not against any party or the government. She is opposed only to the fact that attempts are being made to tamper with the secular character of India. Sabina says that she has proof of her citizenship but there are many who were not so aware and so did not have such documents made. The woman who works in their home also is among those who do not have documents; so do such people have no right to live in the country?
The protest is getting support from many opposition parties and Left organizations. The protest was started by about 100 women at Mansoor Ali Park, and when the police got to know of it they tried to disrupt thee dharna but did not succeed, despite calling in the PAC. The police thought that the dharna would end by night but that did not happen, and the women are still firm in their protest. The parties and organizations supporting the Mansoor Ali Park dharna include CPIML, AISA, AICCTU, AIPWA, CITU, AIDWA, Bharat ki Janwadi Naujawan Sabha and SFI District Committees.
An indefinite dharna protest has been going on since 11 January 2020 at Lakhminiya Chowk in Ballia Block, Beguserai District to demand repeal of CAA-NRC-NPR. Organized under the banner of the Ambedkar Sangharsh Vichar Manch at the initiative of CPIML, thousands of people are attending the dharna, including people from nearby villages, agrarian workers, poor farmers, small shopkeepers, students, youth, people from Hindu and Muslim communities and large numbers of women.
Protesters sitting on dharna say that they will not end the dharna until the government agrees to their demand and revokes CAA-NRC-NPR. They said they are willing to die to save the country. The dharna has got support from RJD, Congress, CPI, CPM, social organizations and activists and democracy-loving citizens. There is great outrage against the fascist repressive conspiracy by the Modi-Shah government.
The dharna expresses solidarity with the anti-CAA protests going on across the country and condemns the violent repression of democratic voices. The anti-people anti-minority face of the Nitish Kumar government is also being thoroughly exposed and there is strong opposition to his failure to say that NPR will not be implemented in Bihar. The dharna pledged to protect the Constitution, democracy and secular India.
The protesters’ morale is boosted by the constant presence of CPIML District Secretary Diwakar Kumar, Ballia Block Secretary Noor Alam, AISA leader Watan Kumar, Comrade Indradev Ram, Prashant Kashyap, Ajay Kumar, Abhishek Kumar and other leaders. The Lakhminiya Chowk dharna is another shining link in the chain of protests inspired by Shaheen Bagh.
Inspired by the Shaheen Bagh protest, a Satyagraha has begun in front of the Samastipur Collectorate on 10 january 2020 against CAA-NRC-NPR under the banner of Samvidhan Bachao Sangharsh Samiti, whose convener is CPIML District Committee member Comrade Surendra Prasad Singh. Led by the CPIML, this Satyagraha has the support of CPI, CPM, RJD, RLD, VIP, HAM, Congress and other parties. The Satyagraha program is getting increasing support day by day. AIPWA Secretary Kavita Krishnan addressed the protesters on 14 January and the Satyagrahis pledged to continue the protest until CAA-NRC-NPR is revoked. Despite notice of the indefinite Satyagraha being given, the administration tried to pressurize the protesters into ending it after just two days and the Collector issued a notice to vacate the Satyagraha spot, but the Satyagrahis did not give in and the Satyagraha is continuing on its 6th day.
An indefinite dharna against CAA-NRC-NPR has been on for the past 5 days at Phulwarisharif in Patna where Bajrajg Dal and BJP goons perpetrated attacks and murdered Amir Hanzla who was carrying the national flag during the Bihar Bandh on 21 December 2019.
The dharna began on 12 January amidst biting cold weather. Despite the bitter winter, large numbers of women, children and youth joined the dharna and the number is ever increasing. The dharna is being organized by citizens’ groups and CPIML, CPI, Imarat-e-Sharia, Insaf Manch and other social-political organizations. Comrade Gurudev das (CPIML), Janab Rizvi Saheb (Imarat-e-Sharia), and CPI leader Mahesh Rajak have played a leading role in organizing the dharna.
The dharna has so far been addressed by insaf Manch leader Anwar Hussain, MLA and leader of CPIML Legislative group Mahboob Alam, former MP Ali Anwar, former Assembly Speaker Uday Narayan Chaudhury and AIPWA General Secretary Meena Tiwari.
As the number of people joining the dharna is steadily increasing, the venue may be shifted to the Main Phulwari-Khagaul Road. The speakers and protesters at the dharna demanded the repeal of CAA and notification from the Nitish Kumar government that NPR (the first step to NRC) will not be implemented in Bihar.
Indefinite dharnas have also been started at Sabzi Bagh and Lal Bagh in Patna.