While police have granted organisers permission to demonstrate for three days, protesters said they plan to continue the sit-in at Bhiwandi’s MEK Industrial Estate and replicate Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, where women had been spearheading the protest since December 15.
“I will stay here until the government rolls back CAA. The women in Shaheen Bagh have inspired us all,” said Bismilla Shaikh (60), a local resident who joined the protest with her friends and relatives. She had been at the protest site since Monday and had gone home only to eat. “Whenever I want to use the bathroom, I will go there,” she points at the nearby public toilet.
Since Monday, local residents have been distributing tea, vada pav and water among the protesters. “Someone told me that at night, people came to distribute blankets,” Raziya Pathan (66), who lives half-an-hour away from the protest site, said.
Pathan has her family’s support in joining the protest. “It is time we come out, isn’t it?” she said, as she sat with other senior citizens on plastic chairs. Others, much younger, sat cross-legged on a green carpet spread alongside the main road.
The protest, organised under the banner of Mumbra Citizen Forum, has received the backing of student wings and social organisations. Preparations for the protest included banners mounted on wooden frames, volunteers designated to control traffic and arrangements of speakers and microphones.
Software engineer Farzana Shaikh, who addressed the crowd, said “This is a fight to protect the Constitution…We can’t keep quite if the government attacks our Constitution.”
For many, the attraction to stay on at the protest were Ayesha Renna and Ladeeda Farzana, both Jamia Millia Islamia University students who had stood up to Delhi Police when their male friends were being assaulted during a protest last month. They joined the Mumbra protest late Tuesday. Students from Aligarh Muslim University and Tata Institute of Social Sciences also joined in. On Tuesday evening, activist Teesta Setalvad arrived and addressed the gathering.
Senior citizen Parveen Qureshi said several women, who would otherwise remain home, have this time decided to step out. “We want to create another Shaheen Bagh in Mumbra.”
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