Kolkata: After almost 15 hours of no slogans, when Annie Raja from Delhi was sharing her experiences of Shaheen Bagh protest and explaining NRC, CAA and NPR to the protestors at Park Circus, an emotionally charged lady, walked onto the dais and with tears rolling down her cheeks nearly screamed – When will CAA stop? NRC has to stop? She paused and then said, “We have just had our aunty buried. How many more lives are going to be taken before things come back to normal and we start staying as we used to earlier?”
The lady in the traditional black niqaab was Shaheen Khatoon, niece of the first casualty – Sameeda Khatoon of the anti-NRC, anti-CAA and anti-NPR movement that has been taking place in Kolkata. The Park Circus sit-in is going on for 26 days. Later, she told eNewsroom she said, “We don’t want NRC and NPR to be implemented. Modi government should stop this discriminatory law. We are not against Modi. We are against these discriminatory laws. We are also Indians, then why is the citizenship of Indian Muslims at stake?”
Sameeda, in her late fifties, was a regular face at Park Circus sit-in. “She was a high blood pressure patient. But she used to make it a point to be here on a daily basis. She used to walk-in late in around four in the evening and stay on till late in the night. Such was her dedication and spirit to fight against the discriminatory CAA and the draconian NRC and NPR, which are soon to be implemented across the country,” recalled Asmat Jameel, the social activist, under whose leadership the Park Circus protest is taking place and is growing daily.
Asmat, herself has undergone a kidney transplant, said, “I might be physically unwell. I understand the health risks but that is not stopping people like me and Sameeda, who have health risks are not willing to sit back at home and let politicians with ulterior motives shred the unity and secular fabric of India.” She paused and added, “I recall the effort that Sameeda took to ensure that she came to the spot daily. I clearly remember her telling me that if we won’t take on to the streets then we will be stripped off our citizenship rights. For us, Sameeda is a martyr but we believe that Sameeda has been murdered by the Modi-Shah government. I wonder how many dead bodies they want to see before scrapping this law. They say that they won’t move an inch but now we are saying that we will not give in till the government changes or makes the necessary changes in CAA and scraps NPR and CAA.”
Adding to that Apsara Begum, another relative of Sameeda said, “Everyday people are sacrificing their lives while protesting against NRC. We want the government to take back NRC, else we will keep fighting against NRC.” Adding to that Roshan Begum, sister of Sameeda said, “We are very sad about having lost our sister in this way. She was sitting here protesting against NRC when she suffered from a heart attack, by the time she was rushed to the hospital, she died. Her family is shattered. Her sons are away on foreign shores to earn a living. Her husband is physically challenged. Will, the government take care of them? We hold the government responsible for her death.”
Sameeda, suffered from a cardiac arrest at around 11 pm on Saturday (February 1, 2020) night. She died around three in the morning on February 2. She was buried at the Shia burial ground around 7 pm, in the absence of her sons, who are working in Iran and Iraq and were unable to come back to India at such a short time. They are slated to arrive later this week.
As a sign of mourning, black flags had been put across Park Circus Maidan. Candles were also lit to mark the martyrdom of her. Along with Sameeda, 25 more people have died across India for protesting against the controversial amendment in Indian citizenship law by Narendra Modi led BJP government.