International Women’s Day: ‘Bilal Bagh is growing into a movement’

‘Hum Kagaz Nahi Dikhayenge’ and ‘Inquilab Zindabad’ rent the air as hundreds of protesters, mostly women, shout slogans against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens, National Population Register. This is around 9.30 p.m. when there is maximum crowd and maximum energy.

This is the women-driven protest at Bilal Bagh, which has been going on continuously from February 8 on Tannery Road in Bengaluru.

“The Bilal Bagh protest has revolutionised our lives. We are determined to stay on the streets until the discriminatory CAA is repealed,” said Warsi, social worker and the force behind the protest.

Many women, whose lives were restricted to their homes, friends and relatives have now earned a public space where they are seen and heard. There are women from all walks of life – rich to poor, educated to illiterate.

There are homemakers as well as working professionals. “I look after my family, finish all the work as soon as possible and rush here. I make it a point to be here all evening,” said a protester, adding that women occupying streets for days and months is a rare sight. “Not only women, such sustained, constructive protests are rarely organised,” she said.

The protest itself is innovative: painting classes for students, dance and music. “People are getting involved and contributing in their own way. A few of us knit blankets and taught others as well. We are planning to send them to our sisters in Shaheen Bagh,” said a woman protester.

A small library has been set up to inform and educate people while dinner is served every day. Eminent personalities like Medha Patkar, Ramachandra Guha, Naseeruddin Shah, H.S. Doreswamy, are among those who have attended the protest so far.

Abigail Silversmith, a transwoman, who has been actively attending protests every day, said ‘Draconian laws’ like the CAA, NRC and NPR are detrimental not only to the poor and downtrodden, but also to sexual minorities, as most of them are disowned by their families and their new identities are not documented.

Sai Adrian, a student and a transman, said he was elated that the women of Bilal Bagh had included sexual minorities in their fight against CAA.

“We have created a beautiful, inter religious space. We have become a community now. Bilal Bagh is no more a protest, it is a family and is growing into a movement,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2021 2:01:47 PM |

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