Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Camaraderie in the Time of Saffron: We are Shaheen Bagh

Arpita Biswas
For the past one month, India has been witnessing relentless protest demonstrations against the anti-secular Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Historic spaces in cities – from Jantar Mantar of Delhi to Indira Park of Hyderabad, from Azad Maidan of Bombay to Shahid Minar of Calcutta – have been reclaimed by protesters coming from various walks of life, but most notably, students. Amidst these, there is this neighbourhood in South-East Delhi that has risen to prominence by (re)defining resistance as everyone’s right and duty in its truest sense. It is, as we all know by now, our Shaheen Bagh. Started in the immediate aftermath of State-led police violence against students of Jamia Milia Islamia University, the site has now experienced 28 days of valiant sit-in protests by its Muslim women, a majority of whom had only engaged with chores in the confines of their homes until date. They say it is their doubtless understanding of the “kala kanoon” of CAA as a savage attack on the Constitution of this country that has led them take to the streets today. Accompanying them on a daily basis are their children, the menfolk from the locality and students of Jamia, and from time to time, students from other universities, some social workers and activists. And, with their movement shooting to national consciousness, others from all parts of Delhi as well as many from elsewhere have started coming to Shaheen Bagh, slowly turning it into a microcosm of the diversity that your and my India is.