Men behind the success of women at Mumbai Central’s Shaheen Bagh
Behind the indefinite protest by women at Madanpura in Nagpada, where a sit-in of 60-70 people against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) since Sunday has now grown into #Mumbaibagh, similar to Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, is a group of at least 400 men.
Not organised under any banner, these men are not only guiding visitors to the spot – the intersection of Bellasis Road and Arabia Hotel – where some from their family are protesting, but are also ensuring the women get water, tea and snacks, as they shout slogans for ‘Azaadi’ and ‘Inquilab Zindabaad’. Some stay in Nagpada and Madanpura, while others come from areas of Mohammed Ali Road, Kurla and Jogeshwari. Businessmen to working professionals, the group includes men from all walks of life.
A case in point could be Nasrullah Police, a driver from Nagpada, who is staying put in the compound of Fatima building, adjoining the venue, as his wife, two daughters and daughters-in-law protest. “We have two-three boxes each of water, samosa, sandwiches, biscuits and muffins coming in, even though we do not know who is sending it. It’s just their way of supporting the protest. We are only sorting it and serving the food,” said Nasrullah.
Ali Bhojani, a volunteer, said despite all food being provided, they are falling short of provisions. “Some women from the vicinity carry extra dal and chawal cooked at home for the other women, so everyone gets food to eat,” said Bhojani. “Help is coming from all quarters. We don’t have a group to help us put out requests. NGOs and citizens are doing their bit.”
The protesters too are becoming confident. From Day 1, when they were apprehensive of speaking to the media, the women are now seen speaking their mind. “Not everyone sitting here has it easy, some families are supportive of women protesting on streets, while others have had to fight with their husbands to ensure we shout loud enough for Delhi to hear our pleas,” said Kausar Khan, a dietician.
Meanwhile, women at Jogeshwari, Amboli and Oshiwara formed a human chain to protest against the Act.