Tribute to Pulwama martyrs at Kolkata’s Shaheen Bagh; protest enters 45th day

Those running the demonstration at the Park Circus Ground have crafted the campaign in a way to reiterate that Muslims are as much a part of the Indian mainstream as Hindus are

Updated - November 28, 2021 11:48 am IST

Published - February 21, 2020 09:44 am IST - Kolkata

A glimpse from the artwork saluting those who died in the Pulwama attack.

A glimpse from the artwork saluting those who died in the Pulwama attack.

Forty tricoloured miniature coffins and almost as many portraits — of martyred men — form a part of the artwork saluting those who died in the Pulwama attack just a year ago . In the background is a slogan that calls for justice for the martyrs.

The installation sits in a corner of the Park Circus Ground, the venue of the ongoing protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) initiated by Muslim women of Kolkata, the idea obviously being to convey that Muslims too are patriotic unlike what the forces of Hindutva would like people to believe.

The protest entered its 45th day on Thursday, with protesters insisting that they wouldn’t budge unless the CAA is withdrawn, even though the attendance of women has considerably thinned because children’s exams have begun. Even the positions of the loudspeakers have been changed so that the slogan-shouting — which goes on almost round the clock — does not reach homes surrounding the ground.

 

With the weather changing, some of the women — or their children — have also fallen ill, but there are many others who are still staying put, chanting in unison to slogans raised by activists anchoring the protest. From time to time, the activists, who include Hindus as well, urge would-be speakers to not bring politics onto the dais and stick to speaking against the CAA.

“(Home Minister) Amit Shah says he won’t go back an inch on CAA, we say we won’t go back even half an inch. We will continue this protest until CAA is repealed or until we die,” said Mohammed Faiyazuddin, who runs a shop in Park Circus.

His neighbour Shams Ul Haque said: “It’s true that CAA does not affect Indian Muslims, but why introduce a law in the first place that discriminates between people on the basis of religion? Things were just going on fine — they are out to ruin Hindustan.”

 

Those running this protest have crafted the campaign in a way to reiterate that Muslims are as much a part of the Indian mainstream as Hindus are. To begin with, the ground, which is overlooked by a mosque, is awash with the tricolour. The venerable personalities adorning the posters and banners are mostly national figures — including Ramakrishna Paramhansa, Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, Chittaranjan Das, Chandrashekhar Azad — and not just Muslim leaders. And now the tribute to Pulwama martyrs.

“In another two days the Centre is expected to give its response in Supreme Court on whether the CAA should be repealed. We hope that good sense prevails, or else we will continue with the protest — it is our right,” said Zeeshan, a local businessman and one of the organisers of the protest.

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