Apart from the azaan that rings out from the Ismail Sait mosque in Frazer Town, the air has been rent with cries of azaadi, inquilab and halla bol as scores of women and students staged a sit-in dharna at MM Road, Bengaluru, against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens, that has seen the country erupt in protests.
Bearing the unseasonal heat and sitting on the busy MM Road, women of all ages turned up at 3:30 pm on Thursday, 23 January, to voice their agitation and register their protest against the recent legislation, and in solidarity with women-led demonstrations across the country, particularly with the women of Shaheen Bagh, who have been on an indefinite protest since 15 December.
Lubna Siraj, one of the organisers said that it was important for women to be visible protesters, to break the stereotype that women don’t participate in matters such as these.
“When triple talaq debate was on, you had not seen an agitation like this. When the constitution is at stake, everyone will come out, of all faiths, for citizenship,”says Lubna Siraj at the 24-hr #CAA_NRC_Protests in Frazer Town with 100s at the sit-in dharna @TheQuint pic.twitter.com/LL0exDiwqX— Arpita Raj (@arpitaraj92) January 24, 2020
"“There’s this mindset that women don’t get out, precisely Muslim women who are called out for staying at home. But when the Constitution is in danger, then everyone will get out, irrespective of Muslim women. Even when the debate on triple talaq was on, you had not seen agitation from women.”" - Lubna Siraj
From senior citizens to students, a constant stream of women, with babies in one hand and posters in another, made their way to the makeshift stage and shamiana, that was used to recite poetry, chant slogans and reiterate the call to action.
Even as the protest reached the 22-hour mark, there was no impression of slowing down. While some women sat on the road, others occupied chairs on the pavement, taking turns to speak.
Indian flags could be seen at the protest on MM Road, with men and bystanders looking curiously at the gathering of women across the road.
‘Want to Make This Another Shaheen Bagh’
Athiya Sultana said that they did not prove their citizenship based on their documents.
“We want this black law to be taken back, we don’t need it in this country. Until the leaders listen to us, we will continue the protest. Given the chance, we will make this another Shaheen Bagh, inshallah,” said the senior citizen, who’s been at the protest for over 21 hours.
‘Want to Thank PM Modi for Uniting Us’
Ishrat Fathima, who was at the protest with her four children, said that it was important to protest with dignity now than to be evicted without respect when it was too late.
“Not just 24 hours, we want to sit here indefinitely. They don’t even want us to raise our voices, but we want to recreate Shaheen Bagh in Bengaluru. It is not an empty fear, that we will be targeted, it’s already happening. Those 300 sheds of migrants were destroyed. That happened here, not on Mars. Who could stop them?” she asked.
"“I would also like to thank PM Modi for bringing us together, otherwise we were all living as Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Shia and Sunni, now we are all together as citizens. They have to listen to us, we will not stop.”" - Ishrat Fathima‘Bunked College, Lied to Parents to Be Here’
Among all the protesters shouting slogans for rolling back CAA-NRC, some of the loudest cries came from two college students – Erem and Anam Fathima, twin sisters.
“We have attended a lot of protests, as many as we can, because we think that is happening in completely wrong. To exclude a minority community, that has been living here since our ancestors’ times is not done,” said Erem.
“Our parents’ fear is justified, because they get scared when they see the news. People are getting hit and injured so they want us to be safe, but we are here,” Anam added.
While the protest was supposed to conclude at 3:30 pm, hours later the women were still going strong. They insist they will sit in defense of the Constitution, as long as they can.
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