The entire world has  observed the combination of Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) as a factor for breeding a huge number of stateless people in the world or even may create ‘largest statelessness crisis’ in the world. In response to CAA and NRC, the Indian academics, liberals and secular people remained inefficient to challenge the government for its inappropriate decision. Even the elected representative of the people could not assert a force of pressure to realize the government for its inappropriate use of electoral mandate and overruled the constitutional values. Then it was Indian women who took over the central position of peaceful agitation and prepared an unprecedented level of dissent that has ever seen in the history of India.

The Shaheen Bagh movement predominantly led by women has become an iconic movement of the women for the year of 2020. The beauty and success of this movement has not only cherished in India but also in the entire world. In addition, the Shaheen Bagh movement has developed as a symbolic agitation against the new governmental project of citizenship having a combined procedure of CAA, NRC and NPR. It has also become an inspiration for the countrywide agitations that resulted in a number of breed of Shaheen Bagh in different parts of the country. For the last few years, the unity and integrity that have been needed in the country to challenge the objectionable exercise of power by the government are being achieved by the efforts of the Shaheen Bagh. Now, People who protest against the CAA can be distant from each other in terms of place and diverse from each other in many aspects but they unite in their nature and aims. They are same in the objective from protecting the shield of the liberal constitution of India, secularism, democratic rights to the intolerable position over any discrimination over the matter of parliamentary laws and policies. This unity and integrity have observed even when the Hon’ble Home Minister tries to justify the religious discrimination by referring to the status of listed neighbouring countries as having Muslims majority but Shaheen Bagh remained unconvinced with his explanation and stand firmly on its demands.

Moreover, Shaheen Bagh has also been symbolized as the real image of Indian diversity, people of every religion are there to show solidarity with the protestors of Shaheen Bagh and they collectively raise the voices against the CAA, NRC and NPR. People are also found with performing their different religious activities at the same place at the Shaheen Bagh. The efforts of women of Shaheen Bagh have brought the different religious people and their collective prayers for the same objective signify a model of “Idea of India”. In this regard, Shaheen Bagh ultimately minimizes the fear of the world that foresees the crisis of stateless people in the world if the government of India implements new citizenship project with the procedure of CAA and NRC.

The challenges faced by Shaheen Bagh

The women of Shaheen Bagh have been made many sacrifices and faced many challenges in the period of more than three months. Since the inception of the Shaheen Bagh movement, women have been shown as the forefront challenger of the government over the recent citizenship legislation stuffed by the chronological procedure of CAA, NPR, and NRC. In this immediate transformation of the Indian Women, the government and patriarchal mindset people left no spaces to underestimate, despise, defame and conspired to uproot this movement of their survival, existence and an opportunity of garnish the status of equal respectable citizens in India. Surprisingly, the recorded minimal temperature of the cold season in Delhi, hailstorm and number of rains in winters became the subject of examination for women to continue the protest. Moreover, many female students compromising with their education, many women are housewives so they compromise in giving proper take care of their children regarding their health and education; similarly, many women have infants to whom they could not leave at home so they come with these infants. Remorsefully, one of the infants died due to the bitter cold during the protest of Shaheen Bagh.

During the Election of Delhi, the Shaheen Bagh remained as one of the central issues over which the election was contested. Women of Shaheen Bagh were disrespected when people and politicians alleged them to maintain the protest for 500 Rupee per day. Politicians mocked the protest of women over the distribution and served food – the Biryani. And the condemnation was further converted into hatred when our Home Minister urged to the voters to vote in a way that would feel the shock to the women of the Shaheen Bagh. Instead of highly appreciable remarks and encouragement, even the Prime Minister of India looks dubiously and disregards the long time protests of the women by commenting that Shaheen Bagh is unworthy and misguided. Besides this, the women of Shaheen Bagh have also been threatened from the very time it was assembled. This verbal threat further converted into the physical one when two men with weapon marching towards the site of protestors. And finally, the ‘anti-muslim pogrom’ in the north-eastern part of the Delhi has inflicted the pain and fear among the women of the Shaheen Bagh. In fact, after the anti-muslim riot in Delhi, the Shaheen Bagh was once again threatened by Hindu Sena for break the protest. The role of the Delhi Police, however, cannot be denied in providing the security to the Shaheen Bagh. After facing such challenges, the Shaheen Bagh still undeviated, undefeated and continues on its conduit of peaceful agitation that has been completed over a period of three months.

The contribution made by Shaheen Bagh

Indian women have been jostling for their equal status and rights in the Indian society for a long period of time. The Status of Indian Women has largely been characterized as lower than men by many inappropriate justifications ranging from the biological differences to lack of political participation and economic empowerment. From the head of the family to the head of the state, the Indian women are found in an exceptional case to obtained such positions. Therefore, in many cases, the Indian women, deplorably, considered as “second class” citizens of the country.

Due to such patriarchal societal norms and attributes of the Indian society, the patriarchy seems to be dominated from the domestic house to the houses of the Indian parliament. Therefore, women are supposed to be left behind on the basis of their gender identity and incapability to lead any social and political movements too since Independence. By maintaining their regularity in the households activities, they are expected to provide the auxiliary services to the men in leading the social, political and economic affairs. However, Indian Women are underprivileged in terms of the property possession and holding various economic assets and, therefore, this dispossession of the women will create more challenges than men in order to reclaim or sustain their citizenship if the NRC implements in India.

The protest of Shaheen Bagh has proved wrong to all of those who have prejudices, misogynist, underestimate the identity and strength of the women. By the protest of Shaheen Bagh and its inspired women protests in other parts of the world has revolutionized the image of the women in India and observed an unprecedented level of empowerment of the women. The women who considered a vulnerable image of society and destined to domestic household activities have now been transformed by taking responsibility of saving constitutional values, national secular character, and fight for democratic rights and present themselves as ardent cosmopolitan forces in sustaining the crises stateless people in the world. In this way, the Shaheen Bagh deserves to the dedication of this year ‘International Women Day’ for its undeniable contributions.

 

Mohd Shahwaiz is a Research Scholar at the Department of Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh. He can be contacted at mdshahwaiz2012@gmail.com

MOHD SHAHWAIZ, Research Scholar, D/o Political Science, Aligarh Muslim University


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4 Comments

  1. Avatar Dr. P. S. Sahni says:

    I agree. Shaheen bagh is one of the most important movements. But acknowledgement will not be easy to come because it’s an Asian group:colour of the skin of the women is not white:the initial volunteers were Muslim women though very soon women of all faiths have joined. Students, professors, artists, writers, film makers, men, children, LGBTQIA communities have supported it. Also the leadership is collective and not dependent on one person as the leader. It is not funded by government or foreign sources. For all of the above reasons it is respected. I am Into my seventieth year of life:even during the emergency Era 1975_1977,such public protest was not in evidence. As professor chaman lal wrote recently in Countercurrents reminding us of important protests in india during the second and third decades of 1900 in colonial India alluding to the shaheen bagh protest.

    • Avatar Mohd Shahwaiz says:

      Sir, thank you very much for your kind attention on my write up. The remarks, particularly of some level of agreement over the proposition that I tried to make in this article, are highly appreciable. At the same time, I do convince by your valuable interpretation on how the Non-western and Asian women’s contribution cannot be achieved such recognition that we are expecting for.

      Thank you once again sir for expanding knowledge into my account.

  2. Avatar Einar Schlereth says:

    Very good idea. First because they are women, 2 because they are Indian women, who gie an example for all the rest of Indian women; 3. for their brave and noble behaviour.