Large groups of women have been holding sit-in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, similar to the demonstration in New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh neighbourhood. The protests were seen in the cities of Prayagraj, formerly known as Allahabad, and Gaya on Sunday.
“We are against this unconstitutional law [CAA] and the NRC [National Register of Citizens],” 26-year-old Sara Ahmed, a working professional at a private firm, and an organiser of the protest in Prayagraj, told The Indian Express. “We, mostly the women, are sitting here as Indians. There are people from all age groups and religions here. We will make this sit-in like the one at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh. If women of Delhi can sit outside in the cold, why can’t we? We will sit here for 24 hours and continue our protest in the coming days. It will not stop.”
Another protestor, 62-year-old Gayatri Ganguly, said she will participate in the protest through the night, and added that if those organising the sit-in can do it “so can I”. They assembled in the city’s Mansoor Ali Park.
However, Senior Superintendent of Police in Prayagraj Satyarth Aniruddha Pankaj said that senior police officials were talking to the women and urging them to call off the protest. “We are telling them that people in the city have already protested,” he said. “We told them that it is pointless to sit in the cold. Things are under control and we are keeping a watch.”
In Bihar’s Gaya, protests have been organised in the Shanti Bagh locality since December 29. Statues of Mahatma Gandhi and BR Ambedkar are seen at the protest site with slogans of “Inquilab zindabad” being raised by protestors. The protest has been sponsored by the organisation Samvidhan Bachao Morcha, a platform formed to register protest.
Women in the Shanti Bagh protest reportedly go home late in the evening when young men take over and spend the night at the venue. Arrangements for blankets and bonfires have been made with the aid of on-the-spot donations.
The organisers ensure that the demonstration does not come in the way of regular activities of the neighbourhood. “Voice amplifiers go off at 10 in the evening,” Morcha co-convener Satish Das told The Times of India. Another protestor Mariam, a law student, said that the public address system is not used during school hours.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, notified on January 10, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised and sparked protests for excluding Muslims. At least 26 people died in protests against the legislation last month.