OPEN APP
Home / Lounge / Features /  Portraits of resilience: the new year in Shaheen Bagh

Portraits of resilience: the new year in Shaheen Bagh

Mariyam Khan (centre) is a homemaker who has attended the protest every day since the sit-in began. ‘Kya karenge? Laathiyaan barsayenge? Maar denge? Humare dil mein phir bhi mohabbat hi rahegi (What will they do? Will they beat us? Will they kill us? Our hearts will still be filled with love),’ says the 37-year-old. ‘They will never be able to divide us.’ (Pradeep Gaur/Mint)Premium
Mariyam Khan (centre) is a homemaker who has attended the protest every day since the sit-in began. ‘Kya karenge? Laathiyaan barsayenge? Maar denge? Humare dil mein phir bhi mohabbat hi rahegi (What will they do? Will they beat us? Will they kill us? Our hearts will still be filled with love),’ says the 37-year-old. ‘They will never be able to divide us.’ (Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

  • Meet the women of Shaheen Bagh, who have spent the coldest days Delhi has seen in 100 years to protest the CAA
  • As they brought in the new year, these teachers, homemakers, calligraphers and more raised slogans to 'save the Constitution'

Tu shaaheen hai, parwaz hai kaam tera,

Tere saamne asmaan aur bhi hain.

(You are a falcon, your purpose is to fly,

There are still more skies for you to transcend)

As the clock struck 12 on 31 December, this couplet by Allama Iqbal filled with promise the area in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh where women have been sitting in protest against the recently enacted Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) for 20 days. To usher in the new year, hundreds of women, joined by citizens from different parts of the Capital and the country, rose to their feet, turned on the flashlights on their phones and sang the national anthem in unison, followed by chants of “inquilab zindabad (long live the revolution!)".

When we had arrived a few hours earlier, the women were sitting firm, some with their toddlers in tow, speaking to TV crews about the police brutality against the protesting students of Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), chanting slogans, offering food to those who had come from near and far. Their aim was crystal clear: “Kaala kanoon wapas lo (repeal the dark law)."

“Me and my children have Hindu friends, they study together, play together, we are part of their wedding ceremonies and they are part of our festivals. How can you separate us?" roared Sheza Khan.

Itne zulm ho gaye—Babri Masjid case, musalmanon ki sadkon pe lynching, hum sehte rahe, par ab samvidhan par zulm ho raha hai. Hum nahi sahenge (There has been so much oppression—the Babri Masjid case, the lynching of Muslims on the street, we endured it all. But now the Constitution is under attack. We will not stand for this)," added Mariyam Khan.

With great determination, the women—calligraphers, teachers, homemakers—persevere in the coldest winter Delhi has seen in 100 years, to “save the Constitution" and stand in solidarity with their "brothers and sisters who have been targets of police brutality". Some may choose to keep their faces and full names hidden, but they all demand that their voices be heard in every corner of the world.

Parveen Bano, 53, a retired teacher, recently had open heart surgery, which makes sitting in the harsh weather all the more difficult. But aside from a two-day break, she has attended the protest every day since it began. ‘We are sitting here despite all odds to be heard. Why is the Prime Minister not listening to us?’ Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
View Full Image
Parveen Bano, 53, a retired teacher, recently had open heart surgery, which makes sitting in the harsh weather all the more difficult. But aside from a two-day break, she has attended the protest every day since it began. ‘We are sitting here despite all odds to be heard. Why is the Prime Minister not listening to us?’ Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Rana Tasneem, 30, is a resident of Shaheen Bagh and a teacher by profession. She has written a letter to the President and the Chief Justice, asking that the CAA be repealed. She has been shuffling across Jamia, Zakir Nagar and Shaheen Bagh to get as many signatures as she can. ‘We need our voices to reach the highest authorities. We need to be heard.’ Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
View Full Image
Rana Tasneem, 30, is a resident of Shaheen Bagh and a teacher by profession. She has written a letter to the President and the Chief Justice, asking that the CAA be repealed. She has been shuffling across Jamia, Zakir Nagar and Shaheen Bagh to get as many signatures as she can. ‘We need our voices to reach the highest authorities. We need to be heard.’ Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Mubeen, 52, is a homemaker. She comes every day at around 10am and stays until late at night. ‘Our work is on hold, but we will not back down. We will fight for our rights. We will fight for our brothers and sisters. We will fight for a secular India,’ she says. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
View Full Image
Mubeen, 52, is a homemaker. She comes every day at around 10am and stays until late at night. ‘Our work is on hold, but we will not back down. We will fight for our rights. We will fight for our brothers and sisters. We will fight for a secular India,’ she says. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Hafsa, 25, completed her MBA earlier this year, and uses the skills she acquired in her diploma course in calligraphy from Jamia Millia Islamia to write poetry and slogans on a cape she wears to the protests every day. In this image, she has etched the lines from Habib Jalib’s ‘nazm’, ‘Main Nahi Maanta’. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
View Full Image
Hafsa, 25, completed her MBA earlier this year, and uses the skills she acquired in her diploma course in calligraphy from Jamia Millia Islamia to write poetry and slogans on a cape she wears to the protests every day. In this image, she has etched the lines from Habib Jalib’s ‘nazm’, ‘Main Nahi Maanta’. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Mehrunissa, 50, sits forlorn but resilient on stage. On 31 December, she decided to go on hunger strike until the CAA is repealed. ‘Look at what they did to the students of Jamia, to the students of AMU, look at what they are doing to the people of Uttar Pradesh,’ she says. ‘This injustice needs to end.’ Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
View Full Image
Mehrunissa, 50, sits forlorn but resilient on stage. On 31 December, she decided to go on hunger strike until the CAA is repealed. ‘Look at what they did to the students of Jamia, to the students of AMU, look at what they are doing to the people of Uttar Pradesh,’ she says. ‘This injustice needs to end.’ Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Ruksana, 40, has a master’s in psychology from AMU—her family lives in Aligarh. ‘There is so much fear. But we will sit here and we will be heard,’ she says. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
View Full Image
Ruksana, 40, has a master’s in psychology from AMU—her family lives in Aligarh. ‘There is so much fear. But we will sit here and we will be heard,’ she says. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Subscribe to Mint Newsletters
* Enter a valid email
* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Never miss a story! Stay connected and informed with Mint. Download our App Now!!

Close
×
Edit Profile
My ReadsRedeem a Gift CardLogout