Shaheen Bagh which was a fairly unknown place a few weeks ago has become the epicenter of the resistance against CAA/NRC. The ‘Women of Shaheen Bagh’ as they are now addressed, stage a sit in protest every night. Octogenarian grand moms to young moms with infants in their arms to school going girls, they all assemble every evening and spend the night in the chilling cold. And women from all backgrounds congregate –office going, self-employed, home makers, daily wage earners, house maids, students, everyone. Seeing the visuals from Shaheen Bagh in Delhi has evoked mixed feelings – It breaks my heart to see these women braving the chilling cold of Delhi every night to fight for their rights but it also fills my heart with courage, pride and hope.
Listening and reading their stories have often ended with a choked throat and tears rolling down my cheeks. Their right to remain citizen of the country,which they and their fore fathers fought for and nurtured, their right to remain relevant, their aspirations for themselves and their children, their fight to protect and honor the Constitution of India, their angst and fear of being outcast in their own land, their need to belong, their horror of being detained and tortured and killed, their fear of losing this battle. They come to Shaheen Bagh with all they have, as losing this battle is not an option for them. They fight for everyone, for every Indian, for every marginalized section, they are the voice that needs to be heard.
Seeing their courage, their determination and their camaraderie fills my heart with hope. A hope for a better tomorrow, an inclusive tomorrow, an angst free tomorrow, a safe tomorrow, a bright tomorrow for all of us. They have become a beacon of resistance and protest not only in India but across the world. And it further fills my heart with pride that the section of the society that was believed to be the oppressed, marginalized and trodden have taken up the cudgels against this aristocracy. With these women leading the charge, it appears highly unlikely that the authoritarian rulers have a chance to triumph. When the historians sit down to write about this revolution and how the battle against CAA and NRC was won I hope they give a fair share of the credit to these ‘Women of Shaheen Bagh’.