‘The protest ends, but movement lives on’

Twitter handle ‘Shaheen Bagh Official’ vows to keep the movement going

“The Shaheen Bagh Protest May have ended, but our movement lives on.” So goes the title of a two-page statement issued by the Twitter handle ‘Shaheen Bagh Official’.

While protesters had refused to stop demonstrations, they said they had taken various precautions keeping in mind the pandemic outbreak. They also observed the ‘people’s curfew’ announced by the Prime Minister earlier and were continuing the protest only symbolically with about three to five women at the site, they said.

Police personnel had allegedly arrived at the site on the intervening night of March 23 and 24, when they said they were going to evacuate the site but were met with a large gathering of locals who stopped them, the statement read. The situation was resolved at the time but a large police contingent cleared out the site on Tuesday morning.

“Although we understand the need for a stricter imposition of curfew and enforcement of pertinent restrictions, the ruthless dismantling and thoughtless destruction of the markers of our physical protest [especially the structures whose placement is in question is a matter that is sub-judice in the SC] reeks of strong vendetta and ill-feelings towards our innocent protesters, locals and sympathisers,” it read.

With regard to the future of the protest, the statement read, “While we acknowledge the need to tackle the looming threat of the transmission of COVID-19, it is important to ensure at all reasonable costs that the spirit and intent behind the Shaheen Bagh is not lost in the race against this pandemic.”

The twitter handle put out a charter of rights and demands, which it would present to the interlocutors appointed by the Supreme Court. Among the demands, the protesters sought protection from the courts through increased patrolling and additional deployment of police around the area, that no further retaliatory or coercive action be taken against the protesters, locals or sympathisers of the protest. It also called for withdrawing cases against Jamia Millia Islamia students and for a court-monitored inquiry into the crackdown at the university on December 15, besides requesting the court to take cognisance of alleged hate speech over social media directed at protesters, and which “contributed to the conflagration” in north-east Delhi.

The statement also highlighted the impracticality of ensuring ‘social distancing’ in the poorer localities of the country and urged the government to take measures to ensure the safety of citizens in such localities.

“We have come a long way in our fight against injustice. Our efforts have brought practical and tangible sources of dissent in the system itself. When we began, only four States had passed a resolution against CAA-NRC-NPR. Today, the number stands at 12. Although, the sit-in by the women of Shaheen Bagh was the fundamental form of the protest, its essence, however, far transcends its physical form. Shaheen Bagh is no longer just a physical space, but an idea, a warm sentiment, a symbol of indefatigable spirit and democratic force. When we return on the other side of this pandemic, we hope to emerge stronger, braver wiser, and even more resilient,” it said.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 9:46:29 PM |

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