Updated: January 7, 2020 5:40:55 am
Malegaon witnessed its second massive protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) on Monday, with only women — 50,000 as per the organisers — taking to the streets. The police, however, pegged the figure at 10,000.
At the end of the protest, its convener, Janata Dal (Secular) corporator Shan-e-Hind, the daughter of former seven-time Malegaon Central MLA Nihal Ahmed, called for a “non-cooperation movement” on Republic Day.
On December 19, a massive protest rally was taken out against CAA and NRC in Malegaon. The rally was attended by around 60,000 people — both men and women — the police had said. Shops and schools in the area had remained shut as part of the protest.
As previously reported by The Indian Express, Muslims in Malegaon have been rushing to get their identification documents in order ever since the NRC exercise in Assam excluded 19 lakh people in September 2019. Since then, there had been a six-fold rise in applications for birth certificates submitted to the Malegaon Municipal Corporation.
Monday’s protest saw women marching from Jamea-Tus-Swalehat Chowk to Shahidon Ki Yaadgar Chowk. The women, many of whom were accompanied by young children, began to congregate at Jamea-Tus-Swalehat, Malegaon’s oldest madrasa for women, around 2 pm. While they waited, a young protester recited Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmad’s poem Hum Dekhenge — one of many anthems at anti-CAA and anti-NRC rallies that is being studied by IIT-Kanpur for allegedly being “anti-Hindu”.
Sufi Ghulam Rasool of Malegaon’s Kul Jamaati Tanzeem, a Muslim organisation, urged the protesters forward.
“Jab khawateen bahar nikalti hain tab inquilab hota hai (When women come out, there is a revolution),” he said.
When the hour-long march ended, Mufti Mohammad Ismail Qasmi, the Malegaon Central MLA and patron of the Dastoor Bachao Committee, urged each woman to prepare for January 26. “On the 70th anniversary of the Republic of India, we will unfurl the National Flag on 70 buildings in Malegaon and sing the National Anthem. We will also hold protests to urge people to protect the Constitution. On Republic Day, no one should buy petrol and everyone should empty their bank accounts. Give this message to everyone in your family,” he announced.
Shan-e-Hind said that the organisers intend to emulate Mahatma Gandhi’s non-cooperation movement during the struggle for freedom. “The government only runs on money and because we give our sweat and blood. We will make as many sacrifices as necessary to save our Constitution and our country,” she added.
This is the second massive rally taken out by women in the town after several thousands marched in opposition to the Triple Talaq Act in 2018. Shan-e-Hind said that with Monday’s turnout, Malegaon’s women had made a powerful statement. “Today, our voices will reach every corner of India.” Nashik Rural SP Arti Singh, however, said 10,000 women took part in the rally.
The organisers also invited Sultana Begum, the great granddaughter-in-law of Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, to the rally. Speaking about the need to remain united, she said: “The Mughals rued over India for 800 years but never divided people on religious lines. That is why they could rule for so long. They did not change names of cities. So what gives the BJP government the right to change the names of cities and roads? And why is it only changing those which were named after Muslims?”
At the protest, a group of students from JAT Girls College came bearing the day’s most critical posters. First-year BSc student Zulfa’s poster said — “My document has been stolen by the same thief who has stolen Rafale files.” “During the Rafale controversy, Rajnath Singh had said that he could not release information about the deal because the file had been stolen. If a minister can say that, so can I about my identification papers,” she said.
Her friend Qudsiya urged people to donate a copy of the Constitution to Home Minister Amit Shah. “The home minister said recently that he will not change the articles of the Constitution that concern the northeastern states. He clearly does not know that the Constitution is applicable to the whole country. He needs to read it,” she said. They now plan to organise a students-only rally later this month.
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