Shaheen Bagh Incident: A Critical Analysis
The Shaheen Bagh Protest was sitting in peaceful protest which was led by women. It began as a response to Citizenship Amendment Act, in both the Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha.
Mainly consisting of Muslimwomen, the whole thing began in December,2019 by block a road in Delhi however it was completely nonviolent and it continued for 101 days and thus became the longest protest again CAA-NRC-NPR.Article 19 of the Indian Constitution of India, is present to protects the right of protest of the citizens by guaranteeing the Freedom of Speech. [i]To protest against government policies is one the fundamental rights of citizen in a democracy, however providing the people with right during the pandemic was not safe and thus should not be allowed.
Citizenship Amendment Act -
This act was passed by the parliament of India on 11 December 2019 and was the main reason behind the Shaheen Bagh Protest. According to the bill members of the Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zoroastrian communities who had arrived from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan till December 31, 2014 and faced religious persecution there will be provided with Indiancitizenship.However, the whole act led to a series of protests throughout the country, the main oppositions against the bill was that it was violative of article 14 of the constitution. Congress,Trinamool, CPI(M) and a few other political parties claiming that citizenship cannot given on the basis of religion.[ii]Amount the states in Northeast , the outrage against CAG has been the most intense in Assam ,this is because while a chunk of these states have been exempted from the legislation CAB covered a large part of Assam and therefore there is a huge chance that Bengal Hindu migrants could threaten cultural and linguistic identities of the state .
On 12 December 2019, the Parliament of India which the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 with the aim of amending the Citizenship Amendment Act of 1955 for granting a swifter path to Indian citizenship. This whole thing also ignited protests of economic crisis and economic disparities that the country was facing. The whole protest began on the afternoon of 14 December of 2019 when around 10 to 15 women blocked Kalinda Kunj Road, which bordered a Muslim Dominated neighborhood of Shaheen Bagh. Many women who participated in the protest were hijab and burqa wearing Muslim Homemakers, as well as there were elderly women and also children and new born babies were present with their parents.[iii] All these people had set up stages, shelters and beddings they had also made arrangements for food, water, medicine as well as they brought a lot of speakers from outside. A woman called Bahro Nisa quit her job to continue full time protest the barricaded areas were visited by numerous politicians almost every day such as Mani Shankar Aiyar and Shashi Tharoor.
Defamation attempts on the protest -
During the protest the protesters had called for a meeting with the Kashmiri Pandits however a rumor was passed that the whole thing was done to commemorate the exodus which was not at all true. Further it was said that the protestors were getting paid even a poster was made regarding this, two female protesters named Nafisa Bano and Shazad Fatma even sent a defamation notice to the persons spreading such rumors and demanded an apology as well as 10 million rupees.
Safoora Zargar Arrest -
Safoora was a student activist from Jammu and Kashmir, who was studying in Jamia Millia Islamia. She was 3 months pregnant when she was arrest on conspiracy charges over the riots that took place due the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act.[iv]She was accused of instigating riots and of being the key conspirator in the violence that had leftover 50 people.In June,2020 it was said that she can be granted bail under humanitarian grounds, however she was not allowed to leave the city nor engage in any activity which can hamper the ongoing investigation.
By 15 December more than 2000 students of Jamie had joined the protest , however on the same day the police attacked these students of Jamia Millia Islamia and they also entered the campus of the college and then started using Batons and Tear Gas , nearly 100 students were detained by the Delhi Police and rebased the next day , The visuals of the students being dragged , assaulted , beaten were shown in various news channels as well as posted in various social media sites . The police also went inside the library and started scaring the students due to which the students tried to scramble over desks and also smashed windows to escape however later the Delhi Police denied doing any such thing. A video by the Quint was also released another vide on 17 February2020, where it can be seen that police personnel broke chairs and desk and also lathi charged to scare the students.[v]
In the same month two students of Jamia were admitted to Safdarjung Hospital with bullet injuries during the protest and it was said that the police were shot by them.
However, the protestors continued saying that they did not have any intention to cause any harm they just wanted the law to be revoked and till then they would not leave the site and go anywhere.
Critical Assessment of the protest -
The whole area was covered with murals, graffiti, posters and banners. A 12 meter high iron welded structure in shape of India in which it was said that CAA cannot be excepted was put , a number of scale models were introduced , a miniature replication of India Gate bearing the names of all the people killed during CAA , then a bus stop was converted into library and various materials on revolution , racism , oppression and various social issues .
Speeches, lectures and shayari reading were held almost every day, scriptures from the Gita,Bible, Quran and Gurbani was held.[vi] Between 2 to 8 February a musical and cultural event called Artists Against Communalism was also held in solidarity with anti CAA protest.
The Shaheen Bagh protest has inspired several other protests in big cities around India, such as Kolkata, Bengaluru,Parbati, Mumbai, Punjab,Ranchi, Gaya, Chennai, etc.
Coronavirus Pandemic and the protest -
Following the spread of cover , it was reported the protesters were being provided with masks and hand sanitizers however it was said that all restrictions imposed in Delhi applied to protests too and anyone who did not listen to it would be punished under the Epidemic Disease Act , which was present to set the restrictions . However, the people refused to leave the site of the protest and had to be removed forcefully by the police and put away the materials which were put up in the last 101 days.[vii] The protesters kept on saying for them not only the virus but also this CAA, NPR and NRC are equally deadly.
Therefore, we can see that how one decision made by the parliament has changed so many lives. We need to understand that we are a country of diverse religions. We should frame equal laws for all the religions and even provide a sense of security to all. This particular act should be removed instantly so as to protect our secular country and also our constitution because it provides right to equality to each and every citizen at large.
Amity University ,