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Comment

Muslim Women and CAA

Much has been written and verbally discussed about the designs behind the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC) and the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the consequences of the implementation of the NRIC in Assam. Protests have emerged in all parts of the country and the ruling powers, in spite of employing all sorts of repressive measures, have not been able to stop them. One significant point about the vigorous protest demonsrations is the participation of Muslim women in large numbers and the near—absence of Muslim religious teachers. This phenomenon has been witnessed clearly in Delhi and Kolkata. Muslim women have displayed the courage to come out of their shackles. What is noteworthy is that Muslim women have waved the tri-colour flag while protesting. The way Chandrasekhar Azad, the Bhim Army leader, handled the protests of 27 December in Delhi is certainly commendable. He is not a Muslim, but a Dalit leader. The second notable point is the growing awareness among Muslims in general about the need to fight against the onslaught of the central government with the people of other communities as their allies. Although Muslims are the main targets of the CAA and the NRIC, this broad-based unity is badly needed. It may be recalled in this connection that in Gujarat in 2002, the aggressive forces of Hindutva could mobilise dalits in large numbers against Muslims. This was possible partly owing to the isolationist psychology among the Muslim population. Now this psychology is in the process of disintegration and except dieherd Hindu communalists, there are not many to support the discriminations against Muslims. On the other hand, even Christian bishops have come out in protest against the CAA. Hence one must discard the notion that the movement against the NRIC and CAA is solely a students' movement. One should also not lose sight of the fact that the movement has dealt a heavy blow to the trick of communal polarisation.

Of course, the acolytes of the Modi-Shah combine has been resorting to, and will continue to resort to, all sorts of machinations in order to break the morale and unity of the protesting masses. These may include dressing some goons in orthodox Muslim clothes and employing them to attack means of transport and fanning communal clashes, having police vehicles burnt by policemen in plain dresses, physical tortures and registering false cases, unleashing hooligans, torture in police custody and staging fake encounters. The opposition parliamentary parties, who are yet to rise above their mutual bickering, must realise that they should shelve their differences and fight unitedly against the Modi-Shah regime and defeat the project of the Hindu rastra. Mamata Banerjee's attitude to the industrial strike of 8 January must in this sense be viewed as deplorable.

In 1971, the Congress, led by Indira Gandhi, secured a comfortable majority of seats in the Lok Sabha. Then, her misrule gave rise to increasing discontent that crystallised into a large mass movement that was led by Jayprakash Narayan. Then Indira Gandhi imposed the infamous emergency. And in 1977, her party badly lost the polls, with she herself suffering an ignominious defeat, because the opposition fought unitedly. The majority achieved at the 1971 polls proved to be of little consequence. Who knows whether the same will not happen to Narendra Modi at some later date which is not far away? There is no Jayprakash Narayan now, but the mass movement is here and the economic crisis has added fuel to the fire.

After partition Gandhiji gave option to Muslims who rightly or wrongly went to the then East Pakistan and West Pakistan to come back to their place of birth. But today the Modi-Shah brigade cannot hinder the process if the Muslims of neighbouring countries choose Gandhiji's option. The new awkening among Muslim women who have come forward to defend their birth rights and getting rid of isolation while making it a common cause with the mainstream is simply heartening when the saffronities have launched an all-out attack on the minority community.

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Frontier
Vol. 52, No. 34, Feb 23 - 29, 2020