The following is an interview of an individual. MTTN neither supports nor condones the views expressed and is simply conveying the information collected.
Shaheen Bagh is synonymous with two words– resistance and resilience. What began as a small gathering of women to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act has now grown into a movement destined to be a part of history.
Through the next three interviews, MTTN brings to its readers an insight into the heart of Shaheen Bagh– its people. Protesting since the 14th of December 2019, they have stood their ground, come what may, for a cause they believe in.
Tasir Ahmed is one of the few who saw the movement at its birth. Having helped out from the initial stages, he is now responsible for organizing and managing. Read on to know more about why he thinks there is a need for Shaheen Bagh, the difficulties they have gone through, and the reaction to their method of speaking out.
1. Why is there a need to protest?
Ans. The bill is against the Indian Constitution. Our constitution says that everyone has equal rights to follow their religion. The Constitution is very important for our country. If the Constitution isn’t followed, it will be the death of this Country. It helps in the working of the country in a systematic way. The free-minded, educated, who are not bound to any party- they are understanding the dangerous consequences that lie ahead of us. That is why everyone, all across India is fighting against this law. This is not a question on religion-It is about saving the Constitution, saving our country.
If it was about religion, previous decisions like Triple Talaaq and Section 370 would have struck protests all over. People are here to save India. All participating are educated- they are college-going students from top-class universities like Jamia, JNU, Aligarh, IIT, IIM, Delhi University-they are the one who started the protests. They are understanding and very well-aware of the consequences of this Bill. Whoever loves this country, they will do anything to save and protect India. They have risked their jobs, their careers, and households.
2. Have you gone for any other protests related to CAA-NRC?
Ans. A few of us started the protest here at Shaheen Bagh. Every day, we faced a lot of problems, pressuring us to stop protesting. I am unable to leave the protests taking place at Shaheen Bagh as I have to look and take care of things happening here. I am aware of the protests happening elsewhere. I want to go there too, but people tell me not to go, that I have to take care of what is happening here. That is why I have devoted all 24 hours to this place.
3. How has the treatment of Police been?
Ans. The treatment of police has been horrible. Police, from the beginning, have been using illegal ways to stop this. They are forcing us to sign memorandums. They have been trying to disperse the crowds. They tried to destroy the banners and remove the barricades. They were here at 3 am in the morning on 14th of January- forcing ys to disperse. But everyone showed up and resisted so they left. Police cannot find a solution to this problem. This is the Government’s job, their responsibility. The Government officials should show up and try to sort this. The protests have been going on since 15th December 2019. Women of every age group, right from 20-year-old young girls to 90-year-old elderly women, are playing a big role here. They are here despite the temperature dropping down to 2 degree celsius. The Government cares for no one. During the Triple Talaq decision, they spoke about caring for their Muslim sisters and mothers. But they don’t seem to be caring now, do they? This was their agenda. They had no good intentions about it.
We have been here for a month. People are on a hunger strike, but no one seems to be bothered. Sometimes it feels like we don’t belong to this country. A place where lakhs of people are gathering, the Government still seems unbothered.
4. Do you feel safe protesting here?
Ans. Of course. See, we are God-fearing people. We have no one to fear but God. We believe He is with us and He is here to take care of us- we have nothing else to fear. Forget about me feeling safe. If you look around, you will see women, girls from colleges, children from school here– they nothing to fear here.
Death will come when it has to come. It has a fixed time. There is no point fearing for life.
Laathis, tear gases- nothing fears us.
5. What changes have you noticed from day one to what’s happening today?
Ans. In the beginning, we had to work very hard. We closed the shops on the main road.
We had to go house to house and request people to come out. Now people show up on their own. People from all around the country, as well as foreign countries, show up. Right now, there must be 20,000-30,000 people present at the moment. The strength of people showing up wasn’t much in the beginning but grew slowly.
We were only 4 people in the beginning and now you can see for yourself- the scale has grown. This makes me very happy. This is a very big achievement. People from every age and every religion are sitting together, eating together and talking together. People have stopped spending much time on social media and phones, and have started talking to each other-sharing their stories may it be sad or happy. Humanity seems to be restored.
6. How do you feel about the Bill stirring protests all over the country?
Ans. Every reaction that I have seen till now seems to be against the law. There have been protests all over-even in Uttar Pradesh, where the state government has restored to severe means to stop the protests. There have been continuous protests in Banaras, Allahabad, Kanpur- despite severe restriction and force against the protestors. Putting up people in jails and enforcing penalties seems to be stopping no one. They are still very determined to stand up against this law.
This gives the countrymen strength and courage to raise their voices too. This movement has grown so big that it seems to be unstoppable- the Government has to listen to the common people to help make this stop. This has been addressed to the court twice and both the times the court has worked in our favour. This movement has reached the utmost peak.
7. Do you think the protests will make a difference?
Ans. This protests will have to make a difference. It is going to take time. We have to be patient but it will make a difference.
Inside the BJP as well, conflicts have begun. The party has been divided into two groups and many people are worried. BJP has good ministers, too, and they know this is leading our country on a wrong path. And if this continues, the day isn’t far away when-the party breaks down and the government is a mess.
How can a law like this be made, that is against our own Constitution? Who is scared? No one, we are out here not because we are scared. We are out here to save our country from being divided. We are out here to save our constitution from breaking. We are out here to stop the menace. We are not scared of Modi-Shah and the RSS.
8. The government seems quiet and hasn’t addressed the protests. How do you feel about this?
Ans. The Government is worried. They don’t know how to go about this. The way they are addressing on the TV–it seems that the Prime Minister is unaware of what the Home Minister is doing. What does all this prove? How is it possible that what the Home minister is addressing in the Parliament without the Prime Minister knowing about it?
And in today’s day, where the media is this active, doesn’t the Prime Minister know that everything is recorded and the people of India know what is happening. The Government is very worried and scared. They are talking about not moving an inch away from the law, but what is the sense in moving an inch back?
We are not talking about a border situation or a situation in Pakistan- The government is addressing to its own citizens like this. A mistake has been made with this law. They should agree to it. Make it better and listen to their own countrymen for once.
Interviewed by Farah Khan and Andrea Gonsalves for MTTN
Edited by Aarohi Sarma for MTTN