Shaheen Bagh, once a small fringe locality in one of the corners of Southeast Delhi is today the hub of Indian revolutionary spirit. And while the government and the police try to oust the protesters from their 24*7 sit-in, in its 41st day as of today, they continue to remain unfazed and undeterred, dedicated to the cause – the Anti-CAA protests.
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We need more Shaheen Baghs. Across Delhi; across India. More people out on the streets reminding a nation what it means to protest, to dissent in a democracy. To remind people what it is to be patriotic & passionate about our country. The spirit of the protest lives on in Shaheen Bagh, day after day, night after night. Through the harsh winter & the dampening rain; but not once has the harshness hardened their hearts, nor has the rain dampened their souls. They do not rest, they do not pause. They persist, despite the difficulties and against all odds. Peacefully, beautifully. THAT is protest. THAT is spirit. And while the residents of Delhi & other cities marvel the humans of Shaheen Bagh for their grit, for their determination, unless we all feel that way, echo that sentiment, this movement will remain restrictive. Unless more areas across various different cities don't become Shaheen Baghs in their own right, echoing the call of freedom through the silence of the night, night after night, we will remain easy to manipulate. We need to disrupt our routine. We need to disrupt our own order so as to be noticed more & more. Shaheen Bagh is a symbol & will continue to remain one but, the symbol should be the beginning of that change. It should take root & stem in every part of the ground until they have nowhere to step or turn without seeing us fighting for what we believe in. It started with Shaheen Bagh, let it continue through each and everyone of us.And I request you to come, be a part of it and carry the word forward. Contribute. The roads of Kalindi Kunj have been converted into a protest hub. Crowds throng day & night, singing, sloganeering & dissenting. This crowd can be bigger; this voice can be louder. Come join the humans of Shaheen Bagh after the day & night hourly protests are over. Create - a Shaheen Bagh nearby and let the sounds echo through and draw more people in. This is revolution. The spirit of India. We're a population of 1.3 billion. It's time to unite now. #shaheenbagh #indiaagainstcaa_nrc #jnu #delhi #fromwhereistand #revolution #change #ourtimeisnow #inquilabzindabad
But, the beauty about this phenomenal protest site, is also the makeshift library that's set up at what once used to be the Shaheen Bagh bus stop.
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Welcome to the Fatima Sheikh Savitribai Phule Library, at Shaheen Bagh. It's a bus stop-turned into a makeshift library where anyone can come, pick up a book on India, dissent, policymaking and literary stalwarts and read, educate themselves on the sign of our times. You'll find a George Orwell next to a Premchand, a Khalil Gibran next to an Ismat Chugtai, and an Isaac Asimov next to a Ghalib. This is the vast culture of Shaheen Bagh. You're just as welcome to donate books that add to the current climate in our country, in the world and in individual growth. To donate books, drop a DM. This is the only Bookstagram that matters right now. #fromwhereistand #shaheenbagh #library #busstop #fatimasheikh #savitribaiphule #makeshift #thisisindia #indiaagainstcaa_nrc #literature #indianliterature #ismatchugtai #ghalib #delhidiaries #igdelhi #dissent #learn #nightlife #solo #igreads #igbooks #bookstagram #sodelhi
As you enter the protest grounds, walk across the crowds chanting slogans of freedom and on the far end of the road, you'll notice a group gathered around a bus stop, in wised stupor and hushed voices, yet, loud minds. That's the Fatima Sheikh Savitribai Phule Library, in Shaheen Bagh. Named after two incredibly strong women who, each in their own way, altered the course of history, women's rights as well as literature. If ever India had feminist icons in its history, these two were definitely torchbearers of the cause.
At the Fatima Sheikh Savitribai Phule library, you're welcomed with dim yellow lighting and a spread of books that reflect the sign of our times.
George Orwell's 1984, Premchand's collective works, Ismat Chugtai's stories, the beautiful works of Khalil Gibran, Isaac Assimov and Ghalib's musings. You're standing and staring at literature that hasn't just survived the trials of centuries, but has affected society in irrevocable ways.
You're welcome to sit down, pick up a book of your choosing and delve a little deeper to understand the making of a nation, an individual and a society. You're surrounded by people of every age group, religion, class and gender, co-existing in the most peaceful way. This is an ideal version of India that most of the intellectuals we're reading in this library dreamed of. An inclusive India that reads and learns more about itself so as to better itself, from within. Democracy, at its educated best.
You'll find a little girl trying to read the words of a Premchand story. You will see an old man reading the prose of Ghalib. You will see a young man reading a book on policy making and you will find a woman reading the works of Charles Dickens. There are no barriers, there are no preconceived notions. No dogmatic views and no condition apply here. Just, that you exist as an individual, peacefully.
You read with the chants, poetry and songs of freedom going off in the not-so-distant background, like music to your literature. And somehow, it goes so well together.
At a time when the Delhi Police Commissioner and government bodies are trying their best to get the women of Shaheen Bagh, the crowds to disperse from the area so as to allow routine transportation to continue there, they mistake Shahen Bagh to be just another protest ground and therefore, a disruption for routine life. However, it is spots like the Fatima Sheikh Savitribai Phule library inside the site that make this place more than just a protest. You see, people from all walks of life are learning more here than they have in schools, colleges and textbooks.
This library is what adds even more value to the beauty that is Shaheen Bagh. It makes it more than just a place where you come to protest, voice your words and share your struggle.
The Fatima Sheikh Savitribai Phule Library in Shaheen Bagh makes it a place where you study and struggle; learn and protest, at the same time. And that's just one of the reasons why it's one of the most important literary hubs the capital may have ever seen in recent times.
Books and revolution share a beautiful relationship that has transcended generations of governments and literature. And Shaheen Bagh's makeshift library is a testament to this relationship.
At a time when every social media savvy Indian bookworm Instagrams and tweets their new book hauls and bookstore pictures as a 'Bookstagram', the Fatima Sheikh Savitribai Phule Library is probably the most important bookstagram the social media platforms aren't seeing enough of.
And if you wish to add to the literary element that contributes to our current climate, and helps more of the beautiful people at Shaheen Bagh learn about the making of India, you can reach out to them via their Facebook page, or even call on this number: 9045113111.