Betwa Sharma - CAA: A Month After UP Police Crackdown, Women Take Reins Of Protests // Javed Anand: Muslims are protesting for the imperilled Constitution

LUCKNOW, Uttar Pradesh ⁠— “I have finished all the household work and come. There is no problem at home,” said Suraiya, a 32-year-old homemaker, who joined the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Lucknow on Sunday. “I might have to go home and make sure the children eat dinner but then I will return,” she said. Suraiya is one of the hundreds of women who have gathered to protest against the CAA, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), and the National Population Register (NPR) in Lucknow, a month after the Uttar Pradesh Police cracked down on a peaceful demonstration that was disrupted when masked men and policemen unleashed violence in the city.

Thousands of people were arrested by the police in Lucknow and several other districts of UP. Children were tortured in Bijnor. Women were beaten in Lucknow. Social activists were tortured and starved inside police stations. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in UP, led by Chief Minister Ajay Bisht, a Hindutva hardliner who goes by the name Yogi Adityanath, has orchestrated the most brutal suppression of dissent against the discriminatory law that makes religion the basis of granting citizenship. Suraiya, a graduate in economics, who had joined the demonstration on 19 December, said that she was “prepared for anything to happen.”

'Modi is afraid': women take lead in India's citizenship protests
Javed Anand: Muslims are protesting not because their religion is in danger, but for the imperilled Constitution

Modelled on the all-day, all-night demonstrations led and largely attended by women at Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi, the protest in Lucknow was kicked off by 20-25 women who gathered under the landmark clock tower of Husainabad in the “old city” on Friday. Their numbers had swelled to somewhere between 300 and 500 on Saturday.  While small compared to protests in other cities, where people have gathered in the tens of thousands in the past few weeks, the women-led protest in Lucknow is significant coming after the heightened violence suffered by peaceful protestors in the city.  In order to reduce the chances of a repeat of 19 December, the women are keeping men from joining the protest at the clock tower. On Saturday, men, including male relatives of the women at the protest, stood behind a rope which the protestors had set up to cordon off the area where women and children sat on mattresses on the ground. 

“If men are present, it is easier for the police to be brutal with them,” said Sumaiya Rana, a social activist and ghazal singer. “We don’t have high hopes from the Yogi government, but there is a chance the police might hesitate to beat children. At least they will talk if they want to remove us.”  If the UP government refrained from disrupting the peaceful protest, Rana said, “This could become like Shaheen Bagh.” .... read more:

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