New Delhi: Felicitating Shaheen Bagh and Bilkis Dadi, now global symbols of peaceful resistance, women demand that Delhi Police stop maliciously targeting all equal citizenship protestors for the Delhi riots. Today, the women of Delhi, as citizens, individuals and members of women’s groups, felicitated Bilkis, one of the ‘Dadis’ of Shaheen Bagh, listed among the 100 most influential people of 2020 by Time
Magazine. She, and the Equal Citizenship Movementthat started at Shaheen Bagh, have become powerful global symbols of peaceful resistance. They continue to inspire us.
Even as we proudly acknowledge Bilkis Dadi, we are outraged at Delhi Police’s malicious investigation that has projected our peaceful movement for Equal Citizenship, against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) as some sinister conspiracy to cause the terrible Delhi riots.
This was the largest, most peaceful, women-led movement for democratic rights in Independent India. We are proud that Muslim women led these protests, in the best traditions of our freedom struggle. And equally proud that we joined this struggle, across religions, classes, generations and regions, in full measure, along with students, academics, queer groups, people’s movements, farmers’ collectives, and ordinary citizens to fight for justice, harmony and equal citizenship for all. Something resonated in the soul of India, which is why in over 200 places, women sat on our streets to be heard, and be visible as equal citizens. This is surely what women’s empowerment is about.
Women are nearly 50% of India’s population, and they led the Equal citizenship movement because we know from our lives the dangers that CAA-NRC present. Women often do not have land or property in their names, have lower literacy rates, and leave their natal homes upon marriage with no documents in tow. In Assam, a majority of the 19 lakh left out of the NRC, are women. So women protested in large
numbers, not to destroy India through violence, but to save it by peaceful means.
Yet, an embedded media tried to malign us by saying that women were being paid 500 rupees to sit on protest. Now, the Delhi Police has emulated that shameful effort, to demean, and target this movement and all who stood with it. In its charge sheets, peaceful women have been portrayed as rioters who hid knives under their burkhas, and carried mirchi powder to spread violence. Sometimes they are
presented as calculating and evil and out to destroy India, and at other times as being mindlessly provoked to violence. We condemn this misogynistic and dangerous fiction – it belongs in the trash can of patriarchy. This twisted investigation and the mindset it reveals has no place in India of the 21st century, and no place in a criminal legal process.
Today, innocent students and activists have been falsely charged and unjustly incarcerated under stringent anti-terror laws like Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) because of these untruths.
Many of them are young women, whose only crime is that they were fearless and feminist, and claimed their place as equal citizens.
We stand with each equal citizenship protestor. We stand with all those falsely accused and unjustly incarcerated,and demand an end to this targeting. We stand with every Bilkis Bi of every Shaheen Bagh all across the country.