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Monday, August 03, 2020

Bilal Bagh: Bengaluru’s own Shaheen Bagh is up and running

The protest, which has received celebrated visitors like actor Naseeruddin Shah, historian Ramachandra Guha, Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and others on Sunday entered its ninth day.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru | Updated: February 16, 2020 8:04:30 pm
The Bilal Bagh protest site at the Tannery road in Bengaluru. (Express photo: Ralph Alex Arakal)

Taking a leaf out of Shaheen Bagh stir, hundreds of Bengaluru women have gathered at the Tannery road, located on the side of Masjid-E-Hazrath Bilal in Pillai garden area, to protest against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).

The protest, which has received celebrated visitors like actor Naseeruddin Shah, historian Ramachandra Guha, Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and others on Sunday entered its ninth day.

Here too, like Shaheen Bagh, women take shifts to be at the protest site, manage household chores while their male counterparts also do the same and are around the area ensuring no untoward incident takes place.

“We are delighted to see people like actor Naseeruddin Shah, historian Ramachandra Guha, Jignesh Mevani, singers Vasu Dixit, Bindu Malini, MD Pallavi, and others joining us in our pursuit to demand the government to revoke CAA. Most of us are first-time protesters who haven’t been off homes for even consecutive nights like these at all. Yes, this is empowering,” Nafeesa Faizal, a protester told indianexpress.com.

Historian Ramchandra Guha at the Bilal Bagh protest site. (Express photo: Ralph Alex Arakal)

Apart from the main marquee, where the protesters sit together round the clock, the protest area has a resting place, library, study space, and discussion area, where people pour in throughout the day.

“The way the womxn (a term used to include transgender women as well) and students have banded together to fight for what they believe in is remarkable. Each day we gain more strength from the fact that we are together despite many concerns that we go through,” Teresa Braggs, an undergraduate student who is a member of the Bilal Bagh coordination committee, said.

 

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A post shared by Bengaluru Bilal Bagh Official (@bengalurubagh) on Feb 14, 2020 at 7:12pm PST

“The idea of community at this moment of time is stronger than ever before and we are rediscovering what it truly means to be Indian,” she added.

Sayyed Sardar, a businessman, who claims he left his work to prepare food for the protesters, said it is heartening to see people learn something from personalities who visit the site every day. He also alleged that the police have tried to quell the protests multiple times. “We have ensured that we will not block roads, and no commuter will be troubled by any means. There is nothing illegal about these protests and we will support our women leading the protests until CAA and National Register of Citizens (NRC) are revoked,” Sardar said.

Public library, classes for children attract many at Bilal Bagh

Another major highlight of the protest area is its crowdsourced library set up adjacent to the protest area. With over 200 books on various subjects including the Indian Constitution, the legal system, fiction stories, lives of freedom fighters, children’s literature, and others, the library has also become a place of teaching and learning for many.

The Savitribai Phule Library-Fatima Sheikh library at Bilal Bagh. (Express photo: Ralph Alex Arakal)

“College students read out and explain various parts of these books to school students whose mothers are mostly at the protest site. A reading culture is gradually being nurtured among students and we are delighted to see them picking up interest in coming here to spend time with us and with each other, in the company of good books,” Saqib Ibrees, a volunteer at the library said.

With more protesters joining at Bilal Bagh, a common refrain among women leaders is: “We are happy to welcome everyone. Let us remind each other that we have no political intent or slant towards any party but are fighting for a cause – to see us through the same lens. Let’s keep our voices high to demand the eradication of differentiation.

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