India is currently witnessing an intense, nation-wide political turmoil. The current political regime has been bombarding us with one fascist law after another; the abrogation of Section 370, the homophobic trans bill, the implementation of CAA-NRC, etc. are only few of the discriminatory and exclusionary laws passed by the government. People of India, however, are fighting tooth and nail, with resilience and hope, against the fascist regime.
Every day protests are organised simultaneously in different parts of the country. Many of the protests are met with police brutality and violence; social activists and leaders are being detained without explanation, gunmen are opening fire on protestors, and student campuses are being turned into war zones by the police and right-wing goons. In a very recent case in Karnataka, children were interrogated and their parents were arrested by the police for staging an ‘anti-CAA play’.
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People had anchored all their hopes to the Supreme Court hearing. However, the Supreme Court decided not to put a stay on the implementation of the CAA till the government responds to the pleas against the CAA. In such a scenario, when all institutions are failing its citizens it is very natural for people in India to feel void of hope.
While talking to a friend, I expressed my hopelessness to her. To which she responded in a single sentence: “If anyone is losing hope, she should just google Shaheen Bagh.” Nothing could have been more comforting, more reassuring. The amount of solidarity shown by the womxn of Shaheen Bagh inevitably rekindles your faith in humanity. Womxn have been protesting 24*7 undeterred by the numerous obstacles thrown their way. Shaheen Bagh has become a remarkable protest site, with people from all over India coming and extending their solidarity; with students using their creative capabilities to contribute to the protest; with NGOs and people working tirelessly on the grounds to take care of the protestors’ basic needs.
Apart from the number of people taking to the streets every day, another aspect of the protests that is bound to give us hope is the momentum that has been maintained for over a month now– and one does not see it dying anytime soon.
Shaheen Bagh has inspired many similar protests across India. Sit-ins are being organised in Bihar, Kolkata, Mumbai, etc. What started with the protests against the CAA, has now turned into a nation-wide revolution against the fascist government. The Wire in its article had stated that on the 8th of January, 250 million people had taken to the streets, which makes up the fifth largest country in the world. A mass movement of this size in India was last seen in 1974 in Bihar that had led to the declaration of the Emergency. The sheer number of people protesting across India every day is a testament to the undying spirit of India.
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Apart from the number of people taking to the streets every day, another aspect of the protests that is bound to give us hope is the momentum that has been maintained for over a month now– and one does not see it dying anytime soon. In spite of being met with police brutality, with ‘pro-CAA’ protests (yes, they exist!) sloganeering “Desh Ke Gaddaron Ko, Goli Maro”(Kill enemies of the nation), and all other forms of intimidation being employed, people have not been deterred. Violence and injustice inflicted on the protestors have only made the nation more angry, yet united. The situation has become so unjust, so horrifying, that people are not being able to turn a blind eye to it any more.
Over the last few months, several heartwarming stories have emerged; stories of people sheltering students and protestors during police crackdowns, of people distributing tea and snacks during the protests, and many more. A video of an old man dancing during a protest at the Gateway of India, Mumbai, went viral, and nothing could have been more uplifting. At a protest in Delhi, people from different faiths formed a human chain during a protest to let their Muslim brethren offer Namaz. A lot of such heart-warming moments during protests give us hope for the future of humanity. We then know that not all is lost. Enough good exists to counter the evil.
The most hopeful aspect of the nation-wide protests is that they are being led by womxn, by the LGBTQ community, by the marginalised communities.
12 states have been resisting the implementation of the CAA-NRC. The decision of the states can be seen as a result of the country-wide protests and the show of solidarity among people across India. On the other hand, it will not be a far-fetched claim to make that this decision taken by the state governments will only further strengthen the protests and amplify the public voice. The nation-wide revolution is bound to catch the government off guard. The fact that the Prime Minister himself said that there has been no discussion on nation-wide NRC, when the Home Minister had previously told the Parliament that NRC will be implemented nationwide, can be seen as a sign of the government being caught off guard. Certainly, they had not anticipated such a huge nation-wide revolution.
The most hopeful aspect of the nation-wide protests is that they are being led by womxn, by the LGBTQ community, by the marginalised communities. The protests have also become a platform for them to raise their voice, to no longer be forced behind by the hetero-patriarchal society, but to be able to lead protests, to be able to have their voice amplified. It is only because of them that the momentum is maintained, and that the people are standing strong.
Things might seem wanting of hope, but we are never alone.
Featured Image Credits: Team FII