On the birth anniversary of Savitribai Phule on Friday (January 3), a call has been sent out to women, trans and queer folks across the country to come out to rally against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and now National Population Register (NPR). The march aims to oppose the agenda of spreading hatred between people and the use of indiscriminate violence on unarmed protestors with complete impunity.
A variety of collectives are coming together to march including Centre for Struggling Women, Democratic Teachers’, All India Network of Sex Workers, All Indian Democratic Women’s Association, Hasratein: A Queer Collective, Jamia Queer Collective, Mahila Nigrani Parishad – Women’s Federation, Muslim Women’s Forum, National Hawker Federation, National Network of Sex Workers, Pinjra Tod etc.
It is being organised by ANHAD founder Shabnam Hashmi who told SheThepeople.TV, “This march is by women trans and queer groups and these are groups who are going to be most affected by the implementation of CAA and NRC. So, all the groups are coming together to protest. The march focuses on safeguarding the Indian constitution, the idea of India because our constitution has not decided anybody’s citizenship on the basis of religion.”
All those who are opposed to discriminatory laws of this nature will come to unite for harmony, love and peace and march together, says Anjali Bhardwaj, RTI activist and also one of the organisers of the initiative. “We will hold a public meeting where women people from women, trans and queer community will share their views. There will also be cultural performances around this issue to express solidarity with everyone who stands up against this kind of discrimination, violence and hate,” says Bhardwaj.
Hashmi adds that the day is significant because of the fact that she was the first feminist teacher who started the first school and spearheaded the movement for women’s emancipation, education and equality.
Vihaan, a trans man who works with Nazariya: A Queer Feminist Resource Group, also talked to us and said that since people from the transgender community mostly have to abandon their biological families because of stigma and taboo around the community, they will be majorly distressed by CAA-NRC-NPR. “The trans and queer narrative is very important in conversation around CAA-NRC-NPR because a large number of trans folks run away from their houses and take refuge in different parts of the country. So, most of us don’t have the documents that will be asked to show to prove our citizenship. Then the queer folks who don’t get acceptance will also be similarly affected by this arbitrary law.
And the most important issue is the connection established between lineage and property of people and we know very well that most trans people don’t inherit property. This would also exclude lots of people from citizenship act. Similarly, several single women, distressed women, sex workers etc. will also find it difficult to include themselves in the NRC.”
Talking about how the march will benefit their cause, Vihaan says, “There are so many protests happening against CAA and NRC across the country but when all the women, trans and queer folks come together to rally, it will make a larger noise and impact. We will be able to firmly oppose the act despite the fact that our efforts may or may not motivate the government to revoke nationwide implementation of CAA and NRC.”
“The trans and queer narrative is very important in conversation around CAA-NRC-NPR because a large number of trans folks run away from their houses and take refuge in different parts of the country. So, most of us don’t have the documents that will be asked to show to prove our citizenship. Then the queer folks who don’t get acceptance will also be similarly affected by this arbitrary law.”
January 3rd marks the birth anniversary of the pioneering educationist and social reformer from Maharashtra, Savitribai Phule. It is celebrated as Women’s Day by Dalit feminists in India. In the 1800s, Savitribai, along with Fatima Begum Sheikh, worked tirelessly for the education of women and girls. They both courageously stood up to forces that tried to stop their mission. This Rally is a way to commemorate Savitribai’s birth anniversary and to take inspiration from these national feminist leaders.