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Muslim Women Protestors of Shaheen Bagh

Citizenship as Participation

The peaceful indefinite sit-in by Muslim women at Shaheen Bagh has become the epicentre of nationwide protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act–National Population Register–National Register of Citizens, as the protestors have brought to the fore a protest performative that is to be comprehended beyond the physical protest site. As a people’s protest in the true sense, it contests the state’s excessive urge to define and dominate, and flags pressing concerns vis-à-vis discrimination in the face of a consumerism-driven argument of inconvenience. In doing so, the protestors help us understand resistance as an expression of belonging and citizenship as a participatory tool, rather than a status granted by the state on the basis of select documents.


Ever since the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (CAB 2019) wastabled in Parliament, there has been a visible unrest in the country. As the bill turned into an act (Citizenship [Amendment] Act [CAA] 2019) on 12 December 2019, the unrest spread like wildfire. Seen alongside the lined-up National Population Register (NPR), a six-month exercise to be conducted between 1 April 2020 and 30 September 2020, and the impending NationalRegister of Citizens (NRC), the CAA is opposed for its discriminatory and anti-constitutional character. It subscribes to a disturbingly restricted understanding of minorities, religious persecution, and India’s neighbourhood.

While protests, marches, and demonstrations have punctuated the national life of India for the past few weeks, the peaceful sit-in by women at Shaheen Bagh, New Delhi has become the epicentre of the nationwide protests against the CAA, NPR, and NRC. As I write this, Shaheen Bagh, through its unusuallanguage of resistance and a somewhat unique claim vis-à-vis belonging hasalready inspired people in several cities to join hands for peaceful indefinitesit-ins. So far, we have been informed ofsit-ins in Kolkata, Gaya, Kanpur, Allahabad, Bengaluru, and Deoband. InDelhi itself, peaceful sit-ins at Khureji, Seelampur, Turkman Gate, Kardam Puri, Mustafabad, and Inderlok have registered their presence.

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Updated On : 27th Jan, 2020


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