Inspired by Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh protest, a non-violent sit-in spearheaded by women from Tandalja in Vadodara against the new citizenship law, has entered its sixth day. The area is dominated by the minority community.
The site of the protest is marked by a national flag pinned on the top of a trampoline in a makeshift tent, photographs of Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar and Ashfaqulla Khan, along with banners reading “Muslim lives matter”, “Don’t Fear” and a copy of the Constitution.
Numbers at the protest taking place at the open plot of Saudagarbaug have risen from mere 50 on January 31 to over 500 as of late Wednesday.
Women, young and old, along with children gather in huge numbers as they discuss the law, raise slogans, recite verses from the Quran and end the day by singing the national anthem.
“We don’t trust the government. The Prime Minster and the Home Minister have different versions about the law and enacting it. We want an assurance that there should be nothing like NRC in our country. First of all, they implemented it in Assam and spent so much taxpayers’ money. They will spend a huge part of the taxpayers’ money again in its nationwide implementation. Secondly, the documents are being asked (for)…our houses were burnt during the Modi regime here (2002 riots), many people have lost their documents. Back then, people only wanted to save their lives, how do you expect that they will have their documents?” asked Sumaiya Patel (21), a student.
Zohra (60) reiterated the sentiment and said, “We were wronged then (2002), we are being wronged now. Our houses were burnt in the riots and many people lost their documents — how do you expect them to furnish those? We are tired of proving ourselves. Our patience is being tested time and again. Why does this government always comes up with such selective policies against one community?”
The women said they believed that the government is trying to divide and rule through such laws. “Our Constitution gives us equality, but the government is trying to divide the nation in the name of religion. They should also understand that these protests are not on religious lines, we are protesting to save the Constitution. Nobody raised a hue and cry when the Ayodhya verdict came, or when the Triple Talaq Bill was talked about. Now, it’s a matter of our Constitution and basic rights and we don’t believe it is right for us to stay silent,” said Saima, another student protester.
Meanwhile, women police officials continued to camp in the area throughout the day. “The area is a common plot and belongs to a person. We were informed that a non-violent, silent protest will be carried out between 6 and 11 pm. We deputed police officials from the mahila police station in case of any need,” said DK Waghela, Police Inspector, JP Road police station.
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