“Log tut jate he ek ghar banane mein,
tum taras nahin khate bastiyan jalane mein”
[People break their backs building a home,
You don’t pity burning down villages]
This moving couplet of noted poet Bashir Badr was emblazoned on the posters hung around the street stalls near the Shaheen Bagh protest site on Sunday.
The poignant verse found resonance amongst the women of Shaheen Bagh who banded together on the occasion of International Women’s Day to lend a helping hand to the victims of the Delhi violence, which rendered many homeless and over 50 dead.
“People have put their lifelong savings to build homes. All have been plundered in this violence; shops looted, many have lost their loved ones,” Aslima laments before she explains the purpose behind this initiative in detail.
“On this Women’s Day, we want to do our bit in whatever way possible. We have set up shops here selling our handmade craft items and doing mehendi art. We will donate the money to the riot victims in Mustafabad, Jafrabad, Chand Bagh among others,” she sums up.
Even as Shaheen Bagh was teeming with an assortment of activities dedicated towards the relief fund, the primary discussion was centred on the stir against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The protest seemed to further embolden their spirits despite it entering 85th day today. “We are not going to get tired. We won’t take an inch back until this black law (CAA) is repealed,” Afreen says.
Next to Afreen’s stall was Shahdah’s set-up where she lined up handmade colourful potteries. The bespectacled woman remained resolute when asked about the government’s unwavering stance on the CAA.
“Jab tk upar wale ki marzi hogi, tb tk datte rahenge. Inshallah (Till the Almighty is with us, we will remain steadfast),” she says.
Further up the line, a group of three women also had a message for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government. “We would urge him to stop doing politics of religion.”
The Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors’ attempt to persuade protesters to end their blockade of a public road also seemed to have yielded no substantial results.
“We also want this road to be opened,” Aslima says, but adds, “not until the government takes back this law.”
“It has been nearly three months and they have turned a deaf ear to our requests. How do we expect them to listen to us if this road blockade lifts,” she wonders.
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