BENGALURU: Slogans of ‘azadi’ blaring out of the loudspeakers drown the traffic clamour on the crowded and over-congested Tannery Road, where more than 200 women along with their children are staging an “indefinite” protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) since February 8.
Though the organisers of ‘Bilal Bagh’ protest in the City say that they are not replicating the Shaheen Bagh protest in South Delhi, there are just too many similarities between the two. ‘Bilal Bagh’ protest is predominantly led by women, young, middle aged and elderly, who carry with them their children and are committed to brave the odds and continue with the protest till the Central government does not withdraw CAA, NRC and NPR.
“Hum kisikey ghulam nahi banengey. Hum apna haq lekar rahengey (We will not rendered as slaves. We will claim our rights),” they say in one voice; in a chorus, when asked how long would they keep up with their protest.Despite no permission from the police, the protesters have blocked the 9th Main, Pillanna Road, which is opposite the Bilal Masjid on Tannery Road. Less than half a kilometre from DJ Halli and KG Halli police stations, the protesters have made the protest site their temporary ‘home’ from where they send their children to school and bring them back to the protest site.
There are infants, toddlers and school-going children among the women protesters, who listen to the speaker and break into the azadi chant. “Humey azadi CAA, NRC aur NPR se chahiye. Hum kagaz nahi dikhaengey. (We will not show any documents. We want freedom from CAA, NRC and NPR),” said Zubaida and the others joined in.“We will continue our protest until the government withdraws CAA, NCR and NPR,” said 24-year-old Nusrat, who has been bringing her four-year-old daughter with her every day to the protest.
“It is inconvenient to bring children and infants here but we must put up the fight together,” they say. “We are citizens of India. CAA, NCR and NPR are against people’s right to be here. When we voted for this government they didn’t ask us for any documents. Why should they ask us now? What documents can the poor show?”Asked Mariam, a student, who read out Hussain Hydri’s poem ‘Main Hindustani Mussalman hoon’ to a cheering crowd of women. “We do not come out of our burqa (veil). But the recent citizenship legislation have forced us to come out on the streets to protest for our rights and our children’s future. This is our country,” said Asra.
“If people don’t have the citizenship documents they will be put in detention centres. What will happen to them next?” Firdaus Rasheed, a homemaker and one of the organisers, said. The crowd refuses to believe otherwise.“Government says Muslims, who don’t have documents to prove their citizenship, should go to Islamic countries. Why should we go there? We want to live in a secular country,” added Mariam.The protesting women have come from across Bengaluru on a call given by citizens activist group ‘We the People of India’, also popularly called as ‘Hum Bharat ke Log’ and by word of mouth.
Will take action: Top cop
Asked about the protest, City police commissioner Bhaskar Rao said that the police have been “giving permission to organisers for holding peaceful and democratic protests for the last three months. But if organisers hold protests without police permission, block road and public spaces then we will take action against them. The jurisdictional police are watching the Bilal Bagh protest on Tannery Road for which no permission has been given. They will take action against the organisers as per law,” said Rao.