A large group of women have been on an indefinite dharna (sit-in) against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), National Register for Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) outside Konark Indrayu Mall in Kondhwa, similar to the demonstration in New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh neighbourhood.
Organised under the banner of Kul Jamat-e-Tanzeem, an umbrella organisation of like-minded local bodies, the sit-in entered the fourth day Monday with protesters claiming they would not step back until the government revoked the “unconstitutional” act.
“It is like Shaheen Bagh. Over 100 women and girls have been protesting overnight for the last four days, while some drop by between their daily schedule. We are planning to continue with the protest till the government revokes the Act. We have been telling people that the Act not only affects Muslims, but others as well. We are trying to protect the Constitution,” Nazneen Shah, 40, a protester told The Indian Express.
Since January 10, the venue has hosted a string of plays, occasional speeches and a volley of slogans against CAA and NRC. Protesters here have also vociferously condemned the attack on students in Jawaharlal Nehru University.
While a police chowki and station is located in the vicinity of the protest site, Liyakat Khan, 40, said they had not received any support from the police so far. “People say that Muslim women do not speak up. But when they are coming on the streets to fight for their rights as Indians, there is no support. We had to request for road barricades so that the sit-in does not stop the traffic,” Khan rued.
“It is just the male members of the families who have stood guard. Luckily, we had a lot of support from the local vendors and restaurateurs who have provided us with food and water. We work in shifts, while the women sit here all day,” he said.
Protesters say that India today does not need NRC or CAA but requires employment, education and healthcare. “Most of these people were born here before the municipality was set up. They have no birth certificates. Some are not even educated to understand what is happening,” said Maeraj Shaikh, 22.