Just a couple of days ago, UP CM Adityanath questioned the absence of men at the Anti-CAA/NRC/NPR protests at Shaheen Bagh.
He was of the opinion that the men against the CAA/NRC/NPR did not have the courage to protest themselves and so had ‘made the women of their houses sit’ at Shaheen Bagh.
And it is for this very reason that the protests at Shaheen Bagh hold more importance any other in recent memory.
Every authoritarian regime in the history of the world has at least one thing in common. They want the women to stay inside the closed doors and do their bidding.
India is no different. For centuries women have been assigned the roles of mothers and homemakers and silent observers of oppression. But every time they have decided to get out of those confined spaces, they have wreaked havoc.
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हमारे घर की माँ-बहनें बिना किसी शर्म चौराहे-चौराहे बैठेंगी। चौराहे-चौराहे पर क़ब्ज़ा करेंगी। चौराहे-चौराहे पर नारे लगायेंगी। चौराहे-चौराहे तुम्हारी तानाशाही, तुम्हारी हिंसक राजनीति को चुनौती देंगी। वो हर चौराहे पर जीतेंगी। तुम हर चौराहे पर हारोगे। देश हमारा,देश का हर चौराहा हमारा
Be it suffrage or the #MeToo movement, whenever women have decided to take the matter in their own hands, things have changed for the better.
So why should this time be any different? Especially when it directly affects the lives of every minority in this country. And women, even if they are half the population, they are the minority amongst every minority. They are the ones who always suffer the most!
It also needs to be understood that Shaheen Bagh is locality densely populated with Muslims, the one religion left out of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
If the government doesn’t roll it back and carries on with the NRC as the Home Minister had promised, despite Modi ji claiming that no such discussions have even been had, it will be these very people, who’ll be affected the most.
These are the marginalised people of India, Hindus and Muslims alike. When the government asks for the birth certificate of their grandfathers and they fail to show it and they will fail to show it, it’ll be them who lose their lands, their identities and their country.
And that is not the idea behind the Indian constitution. The document, ratified on the 26th of January in 1950 is an inclusive document. It guarantees one the right to live their life with dignity.
The CAA/NRC will result in taking that right away from millions, as it did for 19 lakh people in Assam alone, before the government declared it null and void.
They have lived through terrible conditions since the locality’s inception in 1985. They have lived through the potholes and the lack of potable water. They lived through it and never complained because they were still living, there was always a hope for a better future. Someday it would have happened.
And that is why the Shaheen Bagh protests are a necessity. These protests are from people fighting for their survival.
Because that future seems bleak now. The someday is a wait for something far dreadful than the lack of basic amenities. That hope has been trampled along with the civil liberties in the country, let alone in universities in the capital.
The common people of this country might not understand the constitution but they understand that it allows them to be a part of this country, it allows them a home, treats them as equal and guarantees hem the right to fight for it.
As we enter the 71st year of Dr Ambedkar shining the light of the constitution on us, those rights it guarantees are more in danger than they have ever been. And that’s why the women at Shaheen Bagh are a necessity.