Manipuri civil rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila, popularly known as the ‘Iron Lady of Manipur’, on Sunday took part in protests the wake of the amended citizenship act at Bengaluru’s Town Hall. Voicing up against the imposition of National Register of Citizens (NRC) and Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which has resulted in a nationwide protest, Irom Sharmila who doesn’t support this act gathered with her twin girls and husband to criticise the Central government for taking one-sided decisions neglecting the opinion of the citizens. This campaign kick-started by one of the organisers Tara Krishnaswamy, co-founder of Shakti – Political Power to Women, and Citizens for Bengaluru.
Hindu and Muslim women conducted a vigil against CAA, NRC and NPR, called “Burqa and Bindi.” It was also a memorial of Savitribai Phule, marking the birth anniversary of the social reformer
Their key demands include: No CAA, NRC and NPR, or police brutality. The protesters also urged the government to not shut down the internet. They said no to privacy invasion and racial profiling. “When women come out in great numbers, laws get changed and people sit up and take notice,” said Tara Krishnaswamy, one of the organisers of the protest, addressing the crowd, The News Minute reported.
“It appears that the government is carrying out one-sided administration without the participation of people. Leaders who are running the government have no vision for the country and are taking decisions which the citizens are strongly opposing,” Irom Sharmila said adding that India is “the nation of nations” and it has become so because of its unity in diversity, The New Indian Express reported.
“Many citizens have suddenly started to feel neglected. The government has failed to understand the sentiments of people. Earlier, there were efforts to impose Hindi and now they have come up with NRC,” the 44-year-old said.
She urged the citizens to protest with patience and police to keep a non-brutal environment until the central government withdraws the controversial Act.
Women with their babies (including Irom Sharmila), students, volunteers, economists, lawyers, historians, representatives of LGBTQ, Transwomen, Dalit, and many men with bindis were seen in the protest. They were raising their voice for their rights in a peaceful manner, said that the government was trying to divide the unity of people by passing unnecessary Acts like CAA.
The civil rights activist is known for her 16-year hunger strike against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the state. She ended the protest in 2016.
Talking about how the NRC exercise in Assam affected the poor, Journalist Rohini Mohan explained, “In Assam, 75 per cent of people (who were doubtful cases) were declared foreigners. Especially the women, flood victims, landless people, and the poorest of the poor, were the worst affected by the NRC.”
The protests garnered traction in Assam and slowly spread through different parts of the country. People are coming on to the roads and protesting against the amended citizenship law, the government has issued prohibitory orders since then.
Following the passing of the law the protests erupted across Assam, West Bengal, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, the violence at Jamia Millia Islamia University in Delhi is the most brutal. Over 50 students were detained by police during the protests, sabotaging their peaceful anti-CAA movement. On late Sunday night, violence broke out at JNU after a group of around 50 masked goons entered the campus forcefully and attacked students and teachers.
Feature Image Credit: ANI