In this protest 22-year-old Ayesha Renna, Ladeeda Farzana and Shaheen Abdullah have become the face of the protest from the Jamia Millia Islamia fraternity against the CAA. They were not cowed down by the cops who were chasing the protesting students and beating them up.


By Muaz Muddassir Qasmi

At a time when the GDP of India is rapidly sliding down, falling to 4.5 per cent and unemployment is rampant, the BJP government, instead of deliberating on them, has focused on what is not required now.

In its second term, the BJP government has taken some steps on the basis of its clear majority, which seem not exactly in the best interests of the country.

It has scrapped article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on 5 August 2019. After passing of five months, the situation in the region is not normal.

Furthermore, in the winter session of Parliament, the government hurriedly introduced CAA, which is against the constitution. The bill was passed after hours of intense debate in the Lok Sabha on 8th December, 2019.

The BJP government is in a majority in the lower house with 305 seats. So it was able to pass CAA in the lower house. The controversial bill became an act after it was passed in the upper house even as the opposition parties strongly opposed the bill, as it is against the spirit of the Constitution of India.

In the citizenship amendment act, deliberately, Muslims are left out which is absolute violation of article 14 of the constriction of India.  Article 14 says: “Equality before law The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. There should be prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth”.

Following the passing of the bill in Rajiya Sabha, the people in the country's northern regions started to protest against this divisive act. Many parts are still stirred up. Many scholars, politicians, writers and human activists irrespective of religion caste and creed have openly condemned it.

The students of some universities have come out to oppose this act. After AMU, the students of Jamia Millia Islamia have come out to lodge a peaceful protest. In their protest, the students could maintain the peace, and continued it without any violation.

On 15th December, the third day of the peaceful protest of the JMI students demanding the scrapping of the controversial CAA, turned into a full-blown agitation. The students have been brutally targeted by the Delhi police.

The police entered the campus of the JMI, and fired tear gas shells. Even many students who were studying in the library were subjected to batons and tear gas.

Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and the former JNU student's president Dr. Kanhaiya Kumar likened the police action against the Jamia Millia students in Delhi to the Jalianwala Bagh massacre.

This may be an exaggeration, but the police brutality was disproportionate to the level of the protests.

In this protest, 22-year-old Ayesha Renna, Ladeeda Farzana and Shaheen Abdullah have become the face of the protest from the Jamia Millia Islamia fraternity against the CAA. They were not cowed down by the cops who were chasing the protesting students and beating them up.

In a video went viral on social media, it can be seen how a girl is confronting the policeman when a group of policemen were mercilessly beating Abdullah Sheen.

22-year-old Ayesha Renna, the woman in a maroon hijab, who raised the right index finger to warn a policeman not to hit a man crouching behind her, is from Kannur in Kerala.  She has degrees in economics and sociology.

Ladeeda Farzana is a 22-year-old BA Arabic student at Jamia. She is also from Kerala.

According to a report she rose to prominence after taking part in a successful agitation against Israeli participation in an event on the campus.

Both the ladies have attracted wide attention on social media. Appreciating their bravery, author Natasha Badhwar wrote on Twitter. “The brave women from Jamia Millia Islamia university are being hailed on social media for confronting the police and saving a male friend”.

"How to rescue a victim during a lynching incident. Real life demo by women students of Jamia,”

After the situation normalized, several media persons reached there to see the brave women.

Giving an interview to many national media persons, they explained what happened in the incident.

According to the report, Ayesha and a group of girls were trying to make their way through the New Friends Colony when police was chasing the students. They then hid themselves in the garage of a bungalow. A boy also joined them.

When the police discovered them, the cops pulled out journalism student Shaheen Abdulla by his jacket collar and thrashed him till he bled from his face. Farzana, Chanda, Ayesha Renna and Akhtarista formed a ring around him to shield him. A girl threw herself on the boy to save him from the police batons.

Ayesha, pointing her finger to a police man shouted who was beating them 'Stop! If you want, first then call women police'.

The policeman backed off. The other policemen too backed off.

In the video, it clearly can be seen that at least one of the men who is holding the baton up does not seem to be a policeman. He was in red tee-shirt and jeans, and was hiding under a police helmet on his head and a green jacket.

Ayesha Renna, who was the first to confront the policemen, gave a statement.

“The only thing on my mind at that time was to save my friend," said the 22-year-old history student, "I never thought we will be in such a situation. But, there was no point in backing off.”

While giving the interview to notable journalist Barkha Dutt, they said that they are not afraid of the government. “We only fear Allah".

Ayesha said: “It happened with Kashmir. We kept quiet.We lost our faith in judiciary after the Babri verdict...We are certain that next they will be targeting the whole of India.”

Ayesha Ranna and Ladeeda Farzana are married. They said that their husbands and parents have been supportive of their decision to be the forefront of the agitation.

Renna said to Barkha Dutt:

“If you see any injustice in the society, don't think that you are a woman...just get out, raise you voice. Men will try to make you sit inside your home. Women are always told to keep their voice low. But, no, raise your voice. Nobody is going to control you.”

After the video of these two girls went viral, they became an encouragement for others; Ayesha's tiny attempt is being seen as a sign of spirited protest the tyranny of power. The protests are a response to clamp down on the people.

The police attacked the students of JMI which fueled the protests. The students almost from many universities of the country have come out in support in solidarity of JMI students.

It has gained international attention, as students, educators, and human activists from different parts of the world stood up in the support of JMI students.

The BJP government intended to suppress the peaceful protest with police power. But due to widespread protests across the country it is now in defensive mode. The protests do not seem to be defused until the government withdraws the discriminative act.

The government repeatedly said that the act does have to do with Muslims and it is not against them. But this is not so.

In 1935 when Hitler had introduced "Nuremberg" act against the Jews, he also used to say that the act is not against the Jews, and that they do not have to fear this act.

In the same way Amit Shah is heard constantly saying that the act is not against Muslims.  But it is obvious; the act is framed up on the basis of religion, discriminating against Muslims. Most importantly, it goes against the letter and spirit of the constitution..

The way people of every religion are demonstrating against the government is absolutely beyond the expectation of Modi and Amit Shah. The demonstrators have given a clear message to the government that they are not going to back down unless the government takes the act back.

The BJP government cannot take away the fundamental right of a community which was ensured in the constitution by our founding fathers. They are trying to do this just because they have a majority in the Lok Sabha.

Despite of implementing unbearable burden of NRC over the country, which the country is not in the position to bear, the government should instead focus its attention on the sputtering growth rate of the GDP, high inflation and rising prices of essential commodities; more importantly it should provide jobs to the millions of jobless youth of the country.

The writer is teacher at MMERC, Mumbai