A not-so-popular locality in one of the biggest, busiest and the most well-known cities on this planet has become the symbol of a movement that refuses to die down in spite of the best efforts of those in power to vilify anyone remotely associated with it. All of took was an indefinite sit-in protest by a group of unarmed women to send shivers down the spine of each and every member of the saffron regime.
16th of December, 1971 will always be remembered as a day when the Indian forces used their military and strategic might to help Bangladesh (till then a part of Pakistan) get rid of tyranny imposed by military rulers ensconced in Rawalpindi, who were actively involved in systematically murdering and raping countless Bangladeshi men and women
Almost 50 years later, another date – 15th of December, 2019 – will fondly be remembered as the beginning of a movement where the mothers and grandmothers of independent India used their immense willpower to strike a crippling blow to the saffronized bigots ensconced in the political dens of New Delhi, without even lifting a finger.
A protest like none before
These women would have made Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi proud if he were alive. They peacefully sat down on the streets 47 days ago and have refused to budge an inch since that day in a show of defiance that has sent our government and its lapdog media in a state of panic never seen before, regardless of their filibuster and aggressive posturing.
The groundwork for this movement was laid on the night of 11th December, when innocent students at Jamia Millia Islamia were bombarded with tear gas shells and then mercilessly thrashed by Delhi Police who were behaving more like lathi-wielding goons hired by a local gangster. These poor souls made the grave mistake of peacefully protesting against the unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and its chronological siblings – the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR). Anyone who wants to know more about this triumvirate of laws can watch the below video (which is mostly in Hindi but with English subtitles)
Tyranny enables dissent
Seeing such brutality made those mothers leave the comfort of their homes and sit on the streets in solidarity with those students along with concerns over these draconian and frankly Islamophobic and aporophobic (fear and hatred of the poor). All that these women were doing was to follow the path laid down by the real father of our nation – Not the Trumpian version.
The Shaheen Bagh protest was not noticed initially because most of us were still trying to come to terms with horrifying events of Jamia and the equally alarming police brutality being displayed in Uttar Pradesh (with the blessings of a sitting Chief Minister hell-bent on exacting ‘revenge’ from a particular community).
But a protest like this could not have been hidden for long and soon people in the media (both mainstream and social) started talking about it. The fact that this movement also included the now-famous Dadis (Grandmothers) in their seventies, eighties and nineties – sitting for almost 12 hours every single day at a time when Delhi’s winter broke a 118-year-old record in terms of its severity – would have melted many hearts.
No wonder that those powerful images were enough to inspire similar protests across the country.
Lies all around
Once the propaganda brigade of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – Their IT cell along with a huge section of the media (whose loyalty to the ruling party is an open secret) – realized that Shaheen Bagh is doing some serious damage to the governments’ credibility, they wasted no time in trying to malign both the protests and the people behind it. This was a targeted campaign solely aimed at portraying the protest as one organized by the Pro-Pakistan, fundamentalist Islamist forces who are a part of the ill-famed Tukde Tukde gang – which does not exist as per our home ministry – against the so-called development agenda of the BJP government led by our Prime Minister. Not just that they were also questioning the integrity of the women that were a part of this protest by spreading countless rumors including the ones highlighted here.
The politicians from a particular party (read BJP) were themselves making the kind of unverified and hate-driven statements that would make you want to cut off your ears. Here is what sitting members of parliament had to say about those peaceful protestors
It is evident to one and all that the BJP is rattled by what is going on at Shaheen Bagh. They are flummoxed by the resolve of these women who refuse to budge an inch before their demands are met and the Home Minister of India would be ill-advised to use the Delhi Police brand of brutality on those mothers. This is exactly why they are trying to create a public opinion wherein these protestors are seen as a nuisance that should either be completely done away with or made irrelevant so as to put pressure off the government in terms of removing CAA.
And we can’t allow them to do that. The only way we can put paid to the nefarious agenda of those at the very top is to keep at it and create even more Shaheen Bagh like protests across India (there already are several of them across the country). The government has tried everything from intimidation to fake news to the demonization of those sitting in Shaheen Bagh but in vain. And so it should be.
Shaheen Bagh is the ultimate symbol of defiance for it has stood up against an unrelenting and divisive power for almost two months. And we as the well-meaning citizens of India must ensure that those women keep doing so till the government relents.
Image credits: Siasat.com