Parcham wishes everyone an Inqualabi Women’s Day. It is 111 years since International Women’s Day was first celebrated, a victory of collectivization of women against the inhumane working conditions, the demand for voting rights. Since then every year, the celebrations mark women’s struggles for a more just and equal world.
In India, the last year has been marked by protests to save the Constitutional Principles governing the country. Soon after the current government was re-elected at the Centre in May 2019, Article 370 which granted special status to Kashmir was abrogated and the status was changed from a State to a Union Territory, stripping Kashmir of its autonomy. Then came the judgment on the Babri demolition which legitimized the claim of a majority sentiment over justice. This was soon followed by the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which provides for granting Indian citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian ‘illegal’ migrants who fled persecution from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before 2014. The Act omitted Muslims from this refugee status and non Muslim countries where Muslims encounter religious persecution such as Myanmar with which the country shares a border. Thus raising doubts over the intent and Constitutionality of the Amendment.
With the passage of the CAA, the government announced a National Population Register and a National Register of Citizenship, which would enable the government to identify the ‘illegal migrants’. The country has witnessed hundreds of thousands of people coming out on the streets to protest, many who had never participated in protests before. Quite a few of the protests were student led which were brutally dealt with by the State. One such was the Jamia protest where police entered the campus and beat up students. Soon after, women took to the streets in Delhi with a sit in protest. The Shaheen Bagh protest started on the 15th of December 2019 and continues. Thousands of women braved the hostile Delhi winter and continue to protest peacefully against the CAA, NPR, NRC and against police brutality.
Shaheen Bagh has inspired many other sit ins across the country, including in Mumbra which is called Mumbra ka Shaheen Bagh. These baghs that have come up across the country have been criticized by politicians and the pro CAA lobby for the very obvious Muslim participation at the protests. Many non Muslim feminist activists participate in these protests, however the number is not enough to change the perception of ‘Muslimness of the protest’.
Though the CAA along with being anti Muslim, is also anti poor, the government has successfully created a narrative of CAA ridding the country of the Muslim infiltrator. This narrative has found favour among non Muslim marginalized communities who do not yet see it as a threat to their citizenship. It is troubling that support would have been made available only if the other communities perceived it as their own problem, not because it is required of us to stand by the right of every citizen of the country, irrespective of whether it affects us personally. This is not to say that no other communities have stood up for the Muslims. However, given the magnitude, the response seems inadequate.
Our discussions for this volume of Urooj dwelled on the question of solidarity, diversity, the Constitution and women’s rights in India. We felt the need for introspection among Muslim youth on our participation in protests where Muslims were not the target, our indifference / silence on murders of Dalits and activists, our resistance to gender just laws for women. We discussed the women’s rights movement, the labeling of feminists, feminism, citizenship and religion. Youth decided on topics they would write on following these discussions. This edition brings those deliberations you.
Parcham was founded with the vision of a just and equal society, a dream for a world which respects diversity, celebrates difference and interdependence. In the current political climate, we realize that it is increasingly important that we begin to work towards a more intersectional politics towards realizing the values of the Constitution which alone will lead us to a humane world. We wish to thank CORO for Literacy for the Samata Fellowship which has made this endeavour possible.