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By Amir Malik, Edited By Qayam Masumi, The India Observer, TIO, NJ: Following their protests against a contentious new citizenship law in India, Muslim women endured harsh winters, absurd comments, and derogatory remarks from politicians. Now, how does the site appear?
Shaheen Bagh, Delhi: A woman giving blessings to a boy of her son’s age, another taking note of the next speakers in line, a third holding the mic at the podium with her delicate glass bangles on and thousands others sitting to listen to the speakers — was an everyday scene at the Shaheen Bagh protests. However, beyond being listeners, these women, sheltered beneath a sprawling 100-meter-long Shamiyana (tarpaulin tent), and those positioned outside its confines, yearned for someone to hear their own voice.
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This is the scene from the past, when Muslim women took charge to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019 which stirred the then nationwide movement against the law. These women wanted the government to listen to their demand and roll back the amendment, which did not include Muslims from neighboring countries to obtain India’s citizenship.
The protests ended when the pandemic hit the world. The unparalleled movement in history, when Muslim women in India protested day and night for over 100 days, silently reached its end, without the government listening to their demands.
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Road that paved a DIFFERENT way
This protest site — a stretch of GD Birla Marg, a road connecting Delhi to Noida and Faridabad — had a makeshift appearance, with protesters setting up tents, canopies, and temporary structures along the road. These structures provided shelter and basic amenities for the protesters, including sleeping areas, seating arrangements, with corners adorned with posters, banners, and artwork expressing the protesters’ demands, slogans, and solidarity.
People from different walks of life visited Shaheen Bagh to express solidarity and participate in discussions, speeches, and cultural performances. The protest site also hosted various events, including poetry recitations and speeches by activists and political leaders.
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Muslim women peacefully sitting in Shaheen Bagh faced online abuse from individuals supporting the law. During an election in Delhi, India’s Home Minister urged his supporters to press the electronic voting machine button with such force that its impact would be felt by Shaheen Bagh.
The road is still noisy. There’s no art, however. No music. No speeches. No Muslim women taking charge of leading a movement — a phenomenon rarely seen in history.
Curated and Compiled by Humra Kidwai
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