Skip to main content

Police surrounded me, wanted me to wind up; Muslim women became my saviour

Sandeep Pandey
By Sandeep Pandey*
Before the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and National Population Register dharna at Ghanta Ghar, Lucknow, was symbolically withdrawn on March 23 morning, I happened to visit the dharna site on March 21 evening with the purpose of sitting there with my spinning wheel or Charkha in support of the women.
Immediately the police arrived and wanted me to leave the site citing that it was a women's protest. I've been here earlier and have spun a couple of times outside the area marked for women protesters. By that time some women also arrived from the main dharna site. I informed them of my intention to spin on my Charkha and sought their permission.
I told the police that if the women would tell me not to spin then I'll go away. The women were in a fix and meanwhile the police was building pressure on me to leave. One of the women advised me to leave after which I got up. By that time police had spoken to their higher officials and decision was taken to detain me. Police asked me to accompany them.
When we were heading towards the police jeep some women who knew me well but were unaware of the developments came to know about my presence there. They came rushing towards the police, with a crowd of them following, and asked the police how could they arrest me? They literally snatched me from the police and two women grabbed my two hands and took me right inside the main dharna site.
I was offered a chair and drinking water pouch. My grey hair and beard gives an impression that I'm older than my age. Some of them began advising that I should leave from the rear of the dharna site so that the police wouldn't be able to arrest me. I told them that my purpose to come there was to spin and if they would permit me I would like to spin on my Charkha at the place I had chosen earlier.
They were apprehensive of the police detaining me again. I told them not to worry about it as even if they did they would take me to the police station and leave me after some time or register a case against me in some lighter sections which would require me to take a bail.
After this I sat down to spin on my Charkha. The police had surrounded me and wanted me to wind up. This time they did not make an attempt to detain me because of the alert women present there. I told them that if they allowed me to spin for some time I would go away on my own. Then they cited the threat of coronavirus and asked me to stop spinning.
I told them that if they were not surrounding me it would not attract so much attention and crowd. Then some journalists also requested me to wind up because of the corona threat. This time I complied with their request but told the Station Officer of Thakurganj Police Station that I would be back after the 'janata curfew,' the next day, and then police should not interfere, to which he agreed.
Two days before this on March 19 the administration asked the women to reduce their strength in the wake of threat of coronavirus. However, when their numbers went below 50, the administration tried to forcibly remove the dharna.
At that point the number of police and security personnel was more than the protesters but as soon as the word spread that police was trying to commit atrocity, the numbers of protesters swelled. Because of the scuffle some women got injured and had to be admitted to hospital.
Protest at Ghanta Ghar, Lucknow
But the women stood their ground so stoutly that, in spite of policemen entering the main dharna area of women to terrorise them, they were not able to move the women. I had just heard of this courage and seen it from a distance. But I directly experienced it on March 21 to my welcome surprise.
Swami Vivekanand had said that a true Indian is one who possesses the depth of Vedanta, courage of Islam, spirit of service of Christianity and compassion of Buddhism. Even he identified Islam with valour. I saw this spirit in Muslim women on March 21.
Swami Vivekanand said a true Indian possesses depth of Vedanta, courage of Islam, spirit of Christianity, compassion of Buddhism. I saw this spirit in Muslim women
Who can defeat such brave women? Now I'm convinced that this movement will succeed and government will have to withdraw in spite of the fact that it has used the excuse of coronavirus to wind up the dharnas with a vengeance. 
It is shameful that when the protesters had taken a decision at Jamia Millia and Shaheen Bagh in Delhi to reduce their protests to only symbolic ones, the police has used high handed methods like lodging First Information Reports, detaining and painting over the graffiti on walls to forcibly remove all symbols of dissent.
The intention of the government is clear, it was not to protect people from coronavirus but to completely wind up the protests. It took them an international crisis to be able to do that. Once the corona threat subsides the government will have to either remove the discrimination in the name of religion and country from CAA or take back the amendment itself. If democracy and Constitution survives in this country we'll have to thank the Muslim women for waging the fight.
It is a matter of shame that the former Secretary General of United Nations Ban Ki-Moon has written in an article:
"There is no way that India can overcome its development challenges by pitting one religious group against another and turning some Indians into second class citizens....If India were to go further down this path of nationalist and religious discrimination, it would be a political and social catastrophe that could set back the country's development for generations." 
He further suggests that the vision of founding fathers of India should remain at the heart of our future to achieve lasting peace, justice and prosperity. What can be more scathing indictment of our present leadership than this.
In another article the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, has written that coronavirus reminds us how for nature we are all equal and how this little virus has erased all human created differences in the society. If he sincerely believes in this then he should recommend to the government to withdraw the CAA which discriminates among human being on the basis of their religion and nationality.
---
* Magsaysay award winning social activist; vice-president, Socialist Party (India)

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They

Govt of India 'compromising' on mandate to regulate gene technologies, protect nature

Counterview Desk  In a letter sent to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and other related ministries and departments, the Coalition for a GM-Free India has raised "serious concern" over the guidelines notified for Genome Edited Organisms, in which major exemptions from regulations have been offered to certain categories of Genome Edited Organisms/Plants and products. A letter signed by Sridhar Radhakrishnan and Kapil Shah, co-convenors of the NGO network, addressed to Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Bhupender Yadav, said, the Office Memorandum, dated May 17, 2022 of the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology about Safety Assessment Guidelines, which follows the Office Memorandum dated March 30, 2022 of the MoEFCC, said, the move "essentially amounts to entry of risky GMOs through the backdoor. Text : Coalition for a  GM-Free India is a national volunteer-driven platform of hundre

A Marxian trend that queries undemocratic customs and traditions of capitalism

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  A very well-meaning comrade called me a pluriversal Marxist with a wild smile full of English irony, while chairing my book release function in the Marx Memorial Library, London. I dedicate this piece to her… There is no other philosopher who is more abused and misunderstood like Marx. There is no other philosophy like Marxism which is more demonised on a regular basis. The mindless vilification campaign against Marx and Marxism continues without any form of reason. The propaganda and portrayal of Marxism as a devilish doctrine signify its importance as a philosophy of human emancipation from the very forces who demonise it. Marxism is a philosophy of praxis which helps us to understand the centrality of creative power of labour in producing socially meaningful value. It helps us to analyse the laws governing production, distribution, consumption, exchange, market, profit, pricing and private property in the development of class-based society. As a humanist p