As Shaheen Bagh protest gains ground, UP, Bengal follow suit
The protest manily by women at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens has inspired similar demonstrations in Kolkata and Prayagraj.Updated: Jan 15, 2020 05:45 IST
Hundreds of people, who have occupied a stretch of road in New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and a proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) for almost a month, have inspired similar sit-ins in places like Kolkata and Prayagraj.
In Kolkata’s sprawling Park Circus Maidan, hundreds of Muslim women have held a round-the-clock sit-in against the CAA, the NRC and the National Population Register (NPR). The number of protesters has grown even as the demonstration entered its eighth day on Tuesday.
The venue of the Kolkata sit-in is a prominent landmark, where students, academics, and activists have been turning up to express their solidarity with the demonstrators, who have been carrying the tricolour and photos of Bhimrao Ambedkar, the head of Indian Constitution’s drafting committee.
Ayesha Jalal, a homemaker and mother of two who has spent four nights at the park, said she had never earlier taken part in any protest. “I hardly leave home. But the NRC and the CAA have thrown us in a desperate situation.”
The passage of the CAA last month to fast-track the citizenship process for non-Muslims, who have entered India from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh before 2015, triggered protests across the country. Opponents of the law insist it is discriminatory and unconstitutional as it leaves out the Muslims and links faith to citizenship in a secular country. They say it could result in the expulsion or detentions of the Muslims unable to provide the documentation if the law is seen in the context of a proposed pan-India NRC. A process carried out in Assam for the detection of undocumented immigrants led to the exclusion of around 2 million people from the NRC last year.
Cultural programmes have been also held at the protest venue in Kolkata while Swaraj India leader Yogendra Yadav has been among those who have visited the protesters.
“The protest in Park Circus started as an expression of solidarity with the Shaheen Bagh agitation. Of late, Hindu women, too, have started joining us,” said Laboni (FULL NAME), a social activist who has been part of the demonstration from the beginning.
The sit-in in Kolkata began on January 7 following social worker Asmat Jameel’s call for it. Many of the participants are first-time protesters, mostly students and homemakers.
“It is a do-or-die situation for us. It has become evident that our names and the dresses we wear are going to land us in trouble. The Bharatiya Janata Party in Bengal is openly saying that only Muslims will have to face the test of citizenship,” said Roshina Sadaf, a student. “I never took part in any protest before.”
In Prayagraj, an indefinite sit-in against the CAA, NRC and NPR and police excesses against the student protesters entered its third day on Tuesday. “The sit-in at Mansoor Ali Park began as a small gathering on Sunday. It has now turned into a full-fledged agitation against the government’s actions, which are not in the country’s interest,” said Saira Ahmed, a protester.