“Democracy is not merely a form of Government. It is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. It is essentially an attitude of respect and reverence towards fellowmen.” –BR Ambedkar, The Annihilation of Caste
The Shaheen Bagh movement led by Muslim women became a symbol of deepening democracy and uniting India (physically and emotionally). These women proved that citizens aware of their rights can help convert a theoretical democracy into a substantive one, in other words, they were striving to fulfil the dream of Ambedkar.
Mahatma Gandhi led the non-cooperation movement in 1920 which became the greatest ever mass movements in the world. But who knew that the same women who are generally labeled as ‘slaves’, ‘backward’, ‘conservative’, ‘oppressed by religion’ will lead a movement right after 100 years of Gandhi’s movement; and it will become one of the greatest movements led by women in the world? And who knew that these women will pave the way for the rights movement in almost every corner of India and they will encourage people across national boundaries to stand by them?
Realising that their citizenship status is at stake, several women of Shaheen Bagh area of Jamia Nagar came on the main road to protest against the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act, 2020 in the evening of 15 December 2020. It was an outrage against the police brutality with the students of Jamia Millia Islamia, a central university. Slowly and gradually this protest turned into a mass movement, uniting Indians from different regions, castes, sex and faiths.
The photographs of almost all the important leaders of freedom fighters could be sighted at the protest site which signaled that these women are the followers of Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar, Maulana Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru, etc.
Hence, they were, in short, practicing the idea of India.
It was perhaps the only movement of its kind. Therefore, any curious person would be interested in reading about the whole journey of these brave women who took the responsibility of safeguarding the Constitution of India.
The much-awaited books written on Shaheen Bagh are available now and going to be released very soon. These books are mentioned below:-
1. ’Shaheen Bagh: From a Protest to a Movement’, written by Ziya Us Salam and Uzma Ausaf
The book is based on the authors’ observation of the movement and it is a result of their abiding focus on the movement.
It tells us how million Shaheen Baghs were made after few brave women in Shaheen Bagh area of Jamia Nagar came out on road to protest against the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act. It is vital for all those readers who want to understand the whole journey of these women.
The book highlights how Shaheen Bagh’s women held the Constitution in one hand and the tricolor in another.
The most important thing about this book is that the authors have highlighted the Muslim narrative of the Shaheen Bagh movement.
They have explained how these women used Muslim symbols and Muslim poetry and they merged it with the Indian constitution, national flags and national anthem. In short how they asserted their Muslim identity along with the Indianness.
This book examines how Shaheen Bagh became a modern-day Gandhian movement for equal rights for all citizens. How the protestors sustained it and how they remained non-violent even after their opponents stooped to barbs and bullets.
2. Shaheen Bagh and the Idea of India, Writings on a movement for Justice, Liberty and Equality, edited by Seema Mustafa
It is a collection of various interviews, essays, photographs and reports by prominent journalists, authors and thinkers.
It analyses how the protest started by Muslim women, many of whom had stepped out of their homes alone for the first time, united the Indians of different faiths and ideologies in an attempt to defend the principles of liberty, equality and secularism enshrined in the Constitution of India.
The most important thing about the book is that it deals with the question of survival of Shaheen Bagh after the riots in northeast Delhi in February (when the protest was still going on) and the witch-hunt that was launched under cover of the Covid-19 pandemic and the unprecedented lockdown.
3. Shaheen Bagh Hoon Mein, yeh shuruaat hai mahilaaon ke Hausle ki.
This was the first written book by Ishrat Khan who hails from Madhya Pradesh.
This book has already been published and it was launched in Shaheen Bagh itself. It is available in the market.