By: Dr. Mohammad Aleem, Editor, ICN Group
NEW DELHI: Shaheen Bagh, a colony of Jamia Nagar in South East Delhi, had no any specific recognition until it became a center of agitation against the discriminatory citizenship law passed on December 11, 2019, during the Monsoon session of parliament by the Narendra Modi Government under the stewardship of his trusted lieutenant, Amit Shah, Home Minister of India.
The first spark of agitation had ignited from Jamia Millia Islamia, a central university, when it’s bright and visionary students soon got the wind about what this new amendment in the Indian citizenship law was going to do to the Indian Muslims.
Soon people realized that if the government succeeds in implementing it with the deadly cocktail of the proposed national register of the citizen’s law (NRC) as the government had haphazardly implemented in Assam, it will render hundreds and thousands of the rightful citizens of this country in no time stateless. And then, they would be thrown into the detention centers like their Assamese brethren who were put into detention camps many lakhs in numbers. They were primarily Muslim, who had migrated from Bangladesh during its formation as an independent nation in 1971.
The agitation, which started by a few students, reached the Shaheen Bagh also. The unique aspect of this agitation was that it was spearheaded mainly by young and old-women of the area. They came from all backgrounds, first in small numbers, then in hordes. From extremely poor to lower middle class and middle class. None had thought that the agitation would go longer and create a history of its kind as the long sit-in by Muslim women in the entire history of the world.
It was not a mean achievement that as the agitation peaked, it soon drew the attention of the world media towards it. International and national newspapers, news channels, and news portals published stories and carried broadcasts to attract the attention of the world. From a high profile, politicians like Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to scores of others spoke in its favor and expressed their concern towards this discriminatory law.
Other important people of different walks of life as writers, social activists, journalists, and politicians, came to the protest site to express their solidarity with the protesters who had been strenuously dubbed as anti-national by the spineless government-sponsored electronic and print media regularly. Their only concern was to abuse the protesting women and men with the filthiest words they could conjure up at that time. Some BJP leaders openly threatened to shoot the protesting Muslims like puppies in the streets. Unfortunately, many dozens got killed due to the discriminatory police firing in many cities, especially in UP. The Indian Police always look eager in rush to please their political masters rather than protecting and implementing law and order enshrined to them by the constitution. Even the top court of India thought better to maintain silence over these brutalities and breach of law openly.
It has always been the case that India prided itself on upholding its secular values and its long vibrating democracy in the world since it got the freedom from the British imperialistBut for the last two decades, things are not the same as they used to be earlier. In the Congressregime also, numerous times, India did bleed profusely with communal and sectarian riots against Muslims in the length and breadth of this country and during the infamous Sikh riot of 1984 after the death of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
The Time magazine has again brought the good and bad memories of Shaheen Bagh, Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and hundreds of other such Shaheen Baghs to every mind which had cropped up across the country emulating the original Shaheen Bagh of Delhi.
What a great irony for this country that the iconic Time magazine has picked up an illiterate faceless old lady of Shaheen Bagh along with the world fame Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, among this year’s top 100 men and women of the world. Indian actor Aushman Khurana could also secure a place as the most influential person of the year through his realistic acting.
The words which have been used for these three distinct faces of India invite serious deliberations. The 82-year-old woman, Bilkis, has been described as a great symbol of resistance in a nation where the voices of women and minorities being systematically drowned out by the majoritarian politics of the Modi regime and inspired peaceful copycat protests across the country.
About Narendra Modi, The Time wrote that he has emerged as a leader who undermined the long-cherished democratic values and targeted Indian Muslims as a second class citizen. India’s democracy fell deep into the shadow under his leadership.
Shaheen Bagh, no doubt, has created history, and it will be remembered for a long time to come for its contribution to the peaceful resistance of the world.