indica News Bureau-
With hundreds of protests against Citizenship Amendment Act across India, Indian government seems to face a tough time in convincing a large section of society about the new act. These protests are witnessing innovative ways every-day. An indefinite protest called by women at Shaheen Bagh, Delhi managed to a lot of media attention with another innovative idea. The protesters called an all religion prayer at the protest ground. Representatives of all religions came together to perform their prayers at the protest on January 13.
Shaheen Bagh, where women, children and men have been protesting for a month now, saw thousands of people coming together in solidarity to register their protest against the new citizenship law and proposed NRC on Sunday. According to a report of Indian Express, Verses from the Quran and the Bible were read out as notes of a shabad kirtan were heard in the background and a havan was performed alongside.
Sikhs did their kirtan, Muslims offered namaz and Hindus performed a havan, all at the same time, to say that the protest against the CAA and the impending National Register of Citizens is not a religious one at all. A woman stood next to the four groups, holding a photograph of B R Ambedkar, as the inter-faith prayer meeting also saw some reading out the Preamble to the Constitution, The Times of India reported.
The slogan that has now become associated with the movement at Shaheen Bagh — Awaaz do, hum ek hain — rang out over and over again as women and men took a tiranga march through the lanes of the colony.
“Many people have been trying to dismiss the movement as a Muslim issue. The presence of so many people here, the Tiranga march, and the interfaith prayer shows those people that out fight is not about a religion but about the country and its values,” said Mariam Iqbal, a resident of Chhatarpur who participated in Sunday’s protest.
According to those associated with the protest since the beginning, Sunday evening was when they saw the highest number of people gathering at the site.
A poster hangs at Shaheen Bagh saying ‘It’s a Protest Without Religion’. Men, women and children responded with a full throated ‘Sat sriakal’ to a call of ‘Bole so nihaal’. And suddenly, Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims were united not by similar trauma but by a sense of oneness.
Ever since the Modi government pushed the Citizenship (Amendment) Act through parliament, slogans of ‘inquilab zindabaad’ and those seeking azaadi from faashiwaad (fascism) and pitrasatta (patriarchy) have been raised at Shaheen Bagh every night. On Sunday- the 30th day of the protest- something different happened. A multi-faith prayer was held on the patch of road that the protesting women of Shaheen Bagh have occupied in defiance of a government move that they say is aimed at rendering lakhs of Indians, and especially Muslims, stateless. Sikhs did their kirtan, Muslims offered namaz and Hindus performed a havan, all at the same time, to say that the protest against the CAA and the impending National Register of Citizens is not a religious one at all. The presence of members of other religions in a protest organised by residents of a Muslim neighbourhood matters. It shows that it is not Muslims alone who are opposed to the CAA and NRC. It is a protest by citizens of India against a discriminatory law that makes the acquisition of citizenship a function of religion for the first time in Indian history and which, by excluding Islam from the list of acceptable religions, questions the national identity of the country’s Muslim minority.
Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor, with Delhi Congress president Subhash Chopra, also visited Shaheen Bagh Sunday evening. Delayed by close to two hours, Tharoor addressed a packed gathering, telling the women of Shaheen Bagh that they were the pride of the nation.