Another Shaheen Bagh-like protest is brewing in Limbayat, Surat, where a large number of people, including women and children, are protesting since Monday against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
In a temporary tent put up on an open ground in Omnagar area, the protesters seen with a black band on their head said that they would continue with their agitation till the “black Act” is withdrawn. Majority of the women are housewives and belong to poor economic background. They were seen carrying the Tricolour and banners with slogans, including ‘Fight Fascist legislation’, ‘Save democracy save India’, ‘Stop dividing India, boycott CAA and NPR’, ‘Say no to divide and rule’, ‘Save humanity save country’, ‘We demand NBR (National Berojgar Register)’ and ‘We stand for peace, harmony and fraternity’.
Passers-by stopped at the site and took pictures of the protesters that were widely shared on social media. Residents from other areas also joined to extend their support. Verses from holy books were recited, while speakers gave motivational speeches at the venue.
Najma Shaikh, who stays in a shanty in Omnagar area and was among the protesters, said, “We are illiterate and the government needs documents of our citizenship. We have made Aadhaar card of our family members but we don’t have other proofs. We have seen the Shaheen Bagh protest in news channels and are carrying out similar protests here. I have changed my daily routine to participate in the protest… I wake up early to finish all household chores.”
She was at the venue whole day after sending her children to school and preparing lunch for her husband, Irshad Shaikh, who works in a textile factory. She carried a small tiffin box for herself when she went to the protest venue.
On Monday night, a police team reached the site and told the protesting women to leave the spot as they did not have the required permission. However, the women and children gathered on the spot again on Tuesday morning.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Akram Ansari who was at the venue arranging for water and snacks for the protesters, told The Indian Express, “Majority of the people staying in Limbayat area are poor and illiterate and they don’t have documents. Once CAA is implemented, where will they go? Last night police turned up and warned us not to protest without permission. Today we applied for permission and will not budge under any pressure to withdraw our protest.”
Ruksana Khan, a social worker, who was at the venue with her husband and children, said, “The CAA is unconstitutional and we were inspired by the protest in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh. We will continue with this till the government withdraw CAA and NRC. My husband Basharat and two children also have joined the protest. We are carrying out the protest peacefully and are ready to court arrest if needed.”
Surat police commissioner RB Brahmbhatt said, “We sent our teams to the protest site and asked the protesters to obtain permission. We also told them not to fix any banner or boards at the site.”
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