The protest at Frazer Town in Bengaluru. (Express Photo: Ralph Alex Arakal)
In an effort to replicate a Shaheen Bagh-like demonstration in Bengaluru, a group of over 300 women began a 24-hour protest in Frazer Town Thursday to express dissent over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act. The protest, which will end 3 pm Friday, is organised by several like-minded groups under the banner #WomenForConstitution.
"Apart from protesting against the CAA, National Register of Citizens(NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), we also demand the central government take adequate measures to ensure there are no Internet shutdowns in the country and stop police brutality on protesters. The government neither has a right to racially profile a citizen nor invade an individual's privacy," an organiser of the protest said.
Speaking to IndianExpress.com, Mallige, a social activist, said the protests also try to create awareness among the public that many disagree with the arguments posed by the Centre on the issue. "We want people to know there are many citizens who disagree with the central government as we believe its arguments are based on false grounds, thereby misleading people," she said.
"Lately, all protests have been branded as 'run by Muslims' or 'promoted by opposition parties'. With the number of protests growing across India, leaders should try to analyse why the voice of dissent keeps growing," she added.
The sit-in, in the presence of women police officials, began Thursday evening with the national anthem after which patriotic songs were sung, slogans were raised in different languages and the Constitution was read. Discussions on the same continued through the night.
24-hour sit-in protest led by women in Frazer Town, Bengaluru begin with national anthem. Protesters raise solgans against #NRC_CAA_NPR, #InternetShutdowns, racial profiling, and alleged ‘police brutality’ in various places across India. @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/tHwRbLuSeW
— Ralph Alex Arakal (@ralpharakal) January 23, 2020
Dr Aasifa Nizar, a resident of the area, said CAA, NRC, and NPR were "unconstitutional". "All these tend to affect unity among people. We hope each district, town, and village replicates Shaheen Bagh, forcing the government to introspect on its decision."
The protest has seen wide participation from women of different backgrounds including daily wage workers, techies, homemakers, students, and senior citizens among others.
One among them, Saritha M, a garment worker, said she decided to attend the protest to ensure her colleagues do not get sidelined by any government policy. "We have gathered here irrespective of faith to oppose CAA, NRC, and NPR to ensure our colleagues do not get sidelined. As a closely-knit fraternity, we stand for each other," she said.
Responding to a recent statement by Union Home Minister Amit Shah that the new law would not be withdrawn under any circumstance, women's rights activist Madhu Bhushan said, "We are used to the state and the government being deaf to the voice of the people."
“We are sick and tired of the rhetoric of hate and bigotry that is going around now. We will drown that with voices of harmony and love,” women’s rights activist Madhu Bhushan says in an anti-#CAA_NRC_NPR protest in #Bengaluru. @IndianExpress
— Express Bengaluru (@IEBengaluru) January 23, 2020
She added that recent protests depict a shift on the ground. "The voice of the people will endure and result in bringing about a change. We are sick and tired of the rhetoric of hate and bigotry that is going around now. We will drown that with voices of harmony and love," she said.
At the same time, groups of female students from different institutions started pouring into the protest by late evening as their daily classes concluded.
"We aren't sure of the kind of education and classrooms we will have tomorrow if we let such an agenda take over. It is important to continue voicing dissent. If the Union Home Minister says he would not budge an inch, we would not budge an inch either. The dissent is growing and the same will continue until these decisions are withdrawn," Anahita Ananth, an undergraduate student said.
According to organisers, over 250 women protesters stayed overnight at the venue. "We will get together to discuss legal possibilities of continuing peaceful protests in the city either at the same venue or elsewhere," an organiser said.
Earlier this week, another all-women protest at Eidgah-e-Jadeed on Tannery Road had seen the attendance of nearly 4,500 people.
"Most of us here are first-time protesters. Despite being busy homemakers, we have found time to take to the streets as we strongly feel a sense of religious discrimination exhibited by the central government these days, especially with several ministers making communal statements to hurt our sentiments," Sadiya N, a resident of Shivajinagar who took part in the protest had said.
Meanwhile, all women-protests continued to take place for the second consecutive day as hundreds gathered together Friday evening on Mysore Road for another anti-CAA protest in the city.