Women of Shaheen Bagh, a South Delhi neighbourhood, have been peacefully protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the police crackdown at Jamia Millia Islamia University on December 15. On the 12th day of this 24 by 7 protest by Shaheen Bagh’s residents, most of whom belong to the Muslim community, it is fascinating to see young kids shouting slogans promoting secularism in the country. Amidst famous proverbs like, “Hindu Muslim Sikh Issai aapas mein hain bhai-bhai” etc., it is the young demographic of the protests that are naturally kicked.
While the troll brigade wants to dismiss them as being hot-blooded and radicals who don’t have enough knowledge of what they are fighting for, we decided to reach out to these young women to understand their awareness of the current affairs. Alisha Khan, an 18-year-old resident and a first-time protestor talks to SheThePeople.TV and says, “We are protesting here peacefully to make the government aware of our fears and trauma but the government seems unaffected.”
Talking about the violence in the protests, she says that the government is more concerned about the buses but the human life that has been lost in “police brutality” is of no value. “Even on NRC if it would be implemented across the country, both Amit Shah and Narendra Modi give different opinions which are creating panic and confusion among the minorities. They themselves are so confused and they say that we are struggling to understand it,” Alisha, a second-year graduation student from Delhi University, asserts. She also added if women are at the forefront of this protest at Shaheen Bagh, make no mistake that we are an unaware lot. “We know what CAA and NRC in combination will wreck.”
“It’s possible that we may be able to prove our citizenship but those who wouldn’t be able to, those whose documents got washed away by floods, those who have to build a new house, how would they provide their documents?” – Afia Akram
Afia Akram, a medical student studying in Kalinga Institute of Medical Sciences in Bhubneshwar, came back to a protest-ridden home in Shaheen Bagh during winter vacation. Talking to us about the protest, the 21-year-old says, “Our economy is going down by the minute, there are people who are dying of hunger in our country and yet our cabinet wants to bring in CAA-NRC. We are protesting here and it is costing all of us a lot. People have kept their shops shut for so many days now and they fear if they will lose their citizenship because they don’t have their documents in place and end up in detention centres then what good is occupation and running these shops?”
“It’s possible that we may be able to prove our citizenship but those who wouldn’t be able to, those whose documents got washed away by floods, those who have to build a new house, how would they provide their documents?” responds Akram to why is she protesting during her holidays.
Another first-time protestor, Noor Fatima, who is just 16 and studies in 11th grade, says, “Modi Ji in Ramlila Ground says that NRC is not going to be implemented across the country. He also dismissed the fact that detention camps are being built in the country at a rapid pace. Tell us who is lying to us?” Noor has been coming to the protest every day. She says that while her father stops her from joining, she has decided to come every day for some time with her mother. While Noor’s days are packed, as apart from her own studies she also gives tuition classes to other children in her locality, this doesn’t deter her from fighting for her rights.
Talking about how the protest has impacted her, she says, “I have never been to a protest before and my father even resisted me to come here but I told him that this is not just a one person’s fight or a fight fought just by the students of Jamia. Only when all of us will come out of our houses, we can make an impact.”
Noor says that she aspires to sit for the entrance exam for Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) to help the army of the country. “I took science and I want to help the army and hence I decided to give the entrance but how this government is working towards eliminating Muslims from the country, like using CAA, they will take everyone in from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh except Muslims. This is how they show their intent and it worries me.”
“I took science and I want to help the army and hence I decided to give the entrance but how this govt. is working towards eliminating Muslims from the country like in CAA, they will take everyone in from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh except Muslims. This is how they show their intent and it worries me.” – Noor Fatima
Neha Khan, a 30-year-old mother of three, had come with a six-month-old son on her shoulder. Tearfully, she tells us, “When we should have been at home preparing our children for their exams, we have to come out and resist the cold weather just to fight for our basic right which is on its verge of being snatched away from us. My baby is sick but still, I come with him every day because this country is mine and we care for every person who will be affected by this law.”
On asking the kind of future she oversees for her children, she laments, “Seeing all that is happening in the country, I see a bleak future for my children. My girls watch police crackdown on the news and ask me whether the police will come to our house or not and beat us up like how they show on TV? I didn’t bring my girls here because they are so scared.” She has two daughters who are seven and five years of age. She concluded her statement by saying that she is hopeful of a better recourse and that things will happen for the best.