Why I am protesting against CAA-NRC-NPR during coronavirus lockdown?

An Anti-CAA protester pens down her personal reasons for becoming part of Park Circus sit-in dharna, which had to wrap up in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic. She also, narrates her reasons for taking the protest from offline to online during the lockdown

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Nousheen Baba Khan
Nousheen Baba Khan
is a PhD Research Scholar, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata

On 11 Dec 2019, Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was finally passed in Rajya Sabha that swayed the entire nation with large-scale anti-CAA protests. Be it students, political leaders, social activists, artists, young, old, men, women, children, and others alike, everyone was on the roads. They knew that it is not an ordinary fight but a fight against their right to life. It is now5 or never. Everyone had their respective reasons for hitting the streets. I also had one. I quote myself from The Guardian when the reporter asked me why am I on the road. “I cannot sleep at night; I cannot concentrate on studies after seeing people around me at home and outside worried. My grandmother often asked me, ‘Will they send me to jail? But I have my Aadhaar Card. Am I not Indian?’ My conscience did not allow me to sit back at home.” Perhaps my maternal grandmother was the reason why I actively participated in most of the rallies and considered Park Circus Swadhinata Andolon 2.0 as my home along with other sit-in protest sites like Nawab Ali Park, Shireen Bagh among others.

Our two-month-long hard work and dedication is being tested by the pandemic. We knew that physical distancing was the only way left to break the chain of this deadly disease but distancing ourselves from the Dharna sites was very difficult or say impossible. West Bengal declared the lockdown on Mar 23, 2020; that day Park Circus protest went symbolic. Later, on the eve of the first day of the state lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the nationwide lockdown for 21 days (which was later extended). Everyone had their analyses, presumptions and assumptions with respect to CAA but I had none. I was firm on the principle that the fight must go on. The fight against CAA must go on; it must go on from our respective homes. On 26 Mar 2020 at 00:22 A.M, I started to protest digitally from home along with our beloved Tricolour. That same day I went live on Facebook by transforming my house into a protest site with posters all over the wall and a placard in my hand stating that I Resist From Home.

Eventually individuals started connecting. Sherry Sehaura from Ludhiana Punjab was the first one to join the resistance. Sherry told me that there was a sit-in protest site named exactly after Shaheen Bagh in Malerkotla city of Ludhiana. I had a live session with him too. Amazing it was to see youngsters being influenced by the idea of transforming the home into protest sites. Few pasted canvases, some used chart papers, few with had A4 size papers in their hands. They resisted with whatever resources they had but under a common banner i.e. I Resist From Home. Professor Pardip Basu of Presidency University always wanted to execute the concepts of Mahatma Gandhi and Kavi Guru Rabindranath Tagore. Professor Basu remarked that during the freedom struggle Gandhiji suggested spinning of Charkha as a sign of protest and A-randhan (no cooking for a day) was suggested by Ramendrasundar Tribedi, which was later taken up by of Kavi Guru Rabindranath Tagore. Professor Basu wanted to materialise the non-physical or virtual campaign keeping in mind the Twenty First Century mind set. On 4 Apr he also recorded a video for the said campaign. Professor Basu appreciated our honourable Prime Minister’s call for unity.

The unity of 130 crores Indians by beating utensils. But he also argued that among the many policies that-BJP led government has taken up so far, CAA was one of the many (the most divisive) actions that nullifies the PM’s effort of uniting 130 crore Indians. The divisive politics of BJP, with CAA being the driving force, has created a trust deficit among the poor and the minorities. Coming to the pandemic, Professor Basu remarked that the entire world is dealing with COVID-19 but India has been pushed to deal with it supernaturally. India needs scientific solutions and not Peri (myth in Persian) mysterious tasks that is given to them every two to three weeks. “Sir, your government failed to stop the outbreak of Covid-19 in India by not taking timely measures that was required, say locking down the foreign flights” said Professor Basu.

Resisting CAA during lockdown coronavirus covid-19 nrc-npr kolkata
A girl protests against CAA from her home

The lockdown has made lives of the poor all the more difficult because the migrant labourers, daily wage earners and poor section of the society are dying not because of Corona but because of the infrastructural failure. On day 25 day of I Resist From Home campaign Younus Mohani, editor of ClickTv.in and Chairman of Maulana Hasrat Mohani Qaumi Welfare Foundation, recorded a video where he remarked that the term migrant labourers is comprehensively discriminatory and an indication of the stringent class-based society that we are living in.

“Today I Resist From Home marks its fifty seven days with a dedicated team of women who starting from Kolkata’s Park Circus to Nawab Ali Park to Shireen Bagh to Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh to Moradabad’s Eidgah site. Anothe rvery plural essence of this campaign is that participants from Jammu and Kashmir are vocally protesting CAA from the their region. Gohar Mir and Mir Basit (both from Srinagar) are always ready to participate in the theme wise activity that we carry out every day. ”

Then we can continue from “The team sets a prop everyday…..”

They use the kitchen props like, they send get well soon messages to the hate mongers with prescription of love and medicines. They are dedicated, they are revolutionary, they all have been on the roads, on the protest sites days and nights and they will not let go off the resistance so easily. This time the women have taken the oath to revolutionize, they are not backing off, and for me it is impossible to back off because the person who was the motivation behind my continuous protest is no more. My maternal grandmother who spent all her life on this soil, who even after having Adhaar card feared going to detention camp is no more. She passed away on April 29, 2020 and unfortunately, I could not bid her final farewell. She might be gone but I do not want others of my grandmother’s age fear the same. 

 

Opinion expressed here are author’s personal one

Nousheen Baba Khan
Nousheen Baba Khan
is a PhD Research Scholar, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata

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