With one month into the protests and rallies against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR) across the city, protesters have swelled in numbers with students and women at the forefront.
Actress Swara Bhaskar, at the Kondhwa women’s sit-in on Friday, said, “I have been to Pune many times. The city has been working towards giving direction to the country. This is the land of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule, Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule and Babasaheb Ambedkar. These great personalities spoke on unity in the country. On this basis, the Constitution gave us our rights. But one person did not like the dream of unity and integrity of the country and that person was Muhammad Ali Jinnah. They murdered the country. Now new Jinnah lovers are born in this country who want another division.”
She said the economy of our country has collapsed, unemployment has increased and education has become expensive. “While this government has failed to solve the problems of the people…it worked to bring NRC, NPR and CAA laws,” she said.
The Kondhwa women’s sit-in is in its 10th day. “I have been coming here everyday. There is hope in the protests to not only remove the Act but also unite the people,” said Shaheen Sohail Khan, 38.
“Whenever there is a protest, there is bound to be an outcome. We are hoping that there will be a positive result. Women and the youth are out in strength resisting the Act,” said Firdous Fatima, 42.
Meanwhile, a similar 12-hour women’s sit-in was organised in front of Sambhaji Park on Saturday. The venue was attended by 50 women who showed their agitation in the nationwide movement.
“I stayed overnight in protest in solidarity with the women and student protesters at Shaheen Bagh. They are standing strong and opposing CAA, NRC and NPR. Being a citizen of India, I feel that everyone should oppose this. I volunteer with Revolutionary Workers Party of India and we go to every small settlement, door-to-door to make people aware about the Act. The labourers and workers who work for hours at a stretch do not find the time to understand the issue. For now, the movement has been among the classes and we need to take it to the masses…we will ask people not to present their papers under this Act,” said Pooja Vrushali Vijay (27), an occupational therapist.
Neha Morkhade (24), said, “The Act targets the poor and the marginalised. Students are coming out on the streets instead of getting educated because of this fascist environment. We are here to support the women in Shaheen Bagh.”
‘Tum kiske saath ho, aaj bata do’, a composition by local singer and songwriter Deepak Peace, was performed by him at the sit-in as well as a cultural resistance, Kafila, organised on Friday.
“A whole political transition has happened since 2014 and the media has become dangerous for democracy. Media was there to keep democracy in check. Amidst the noise, we want our sane voices to sustain. The beauty of these protests is that there is no proclaimed leader. It is also a shame as opposition is dead but it shows that the citizens themselves have rejected them all. The people are claiming their citizenship. Who knows, we might get a leader from these protests. The future of the protest is uncertain but we need to keep protesting. That is why we need creative ways to keep it alive. Writers should write, poets should compose poems, singers should sing and filmmakers should bring this into the pop culture. This is going to change India forever,” said Deepak.
“If I give a speech, I alone am giving the speech. But through performances, it also engages others and becomes an inclusive form of protest. While in marches, we participate individually and personal input is minimum. In such cultural protests, there is complete participation from all. Culture and movement go hand in hand,” said Alka Joshi, committee member, Kafila.
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