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Outreach that is constrained

Posted in View Point

Published on January 30, 2020 with No Comments

The Shaheen Bagh protest has become the most familiar word with almost all channels not only in India but also worldwide too. While the channels based outside India state that it’s an ongoing 24/7 sit in peaceful protest led by women, that began with the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) that was passed in both houses of the Indian Parliament on 11th December 2019. The number of protestors at Shaheen Bagh increased as the students of Jamia Milia Islmia who were mainly Muslim were subjected to brutality by the Delhi Police.  The protestors have blocked a major highway in New Delhi till date,using non-violent approach.   It has now become the longest ongoing continuous protest against CAA-NRC-NPR . The protest being leaderless has left the western media baffled. The protest is not only against CAA and police brutality, but also against the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register  (NPR). The western media also acknowledged that the Shaheen Bagh protest has inspired similar Shaheen Bagh-style protests across the country, such as Park Circus, Kolkatta, Bihar, Mumbai and Bengaluru.

On the other at one of the Indian TV channels, it took one spokesperson of the BJP to say, “ haheen Bagh main siyasi nautanki jaari hai, jo log dharne main pahunch rahe hain unhe toh rozgaar mil gaya hai, jeb main paanch sau rupay aur pet main Biryani.” (There’s political drama on at Shaheen Bagh, those who have landed at the protest site have got some employment, 500 rupees in their pocket and Biryani in their stomach).And soon most of the TV channels barring few started calling the protest ste as a “den of pro Pakistan,” “Pakistan loving anti nationals”.  However, all these channels forgot to ask themselves, when was the last time the world saw so many people women participate in a nationwide political protest? How often do we see women take to the streets on an issue that is not exclusive to them? Not armed with the right kind of answer, one of the anchors of the channel that is known to be singing laurels of the party, came out with “the men against the CAA/NRC/NPR did not have the courage to protest themselves and so had ‘made the women of their houses sit’ at Shaheen Bagh.”

Let’s not forget the these Muslim women gave a good enough reason to BJP to recourse its politics, when the party came out strongly against the “Triple Talaq” and passed a legislation to protect their marital rights. However, the government is shying away from meeting the protestors at the Shaheen Bagh. Not even a representative has been deputed to meet them.  The government needs to know that the women protestors are rewriting sentiments of politics. They are changing the rules of the game.  Once women decided to step out of the boundaries of their homes, they come out determined.  They have launched the movement for equal citizenship in India for all communities, and it could a turning point in the movement towards equal citizenship for all genders. Hence, the protest at the Shaheen Bagh holds more importance than any other in recent history.  Moreover, the demography of Shaheen Bagh is important too. The area is densely populated with Muslims, the one religion left out of the Citizenship Amendment Act. For them, it is a fighting for their survival as they believe once the government brings out the NRC, they might have to go from pillar to post to get the papers to prove that they are citizens of  India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has started an “outreach program” where by Ministers, Chief Ministers, Members of the Parliament to propagate CAA, but none has been deputed to Shaheen Bagh. Perhaps it can only outreach to those who do not have much knowledge about the act, and cannot face who are loaded with questions.


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