“…from December 16th, the dadiyan, maa and sisters of Shaheen Bagh had landed on the streets. Against atrocities, against this law, and forced to protest on the road to save their country from breaking up. I was also a part of Shaheen Bagh’s protest. Like me, Shaheen Bagh and the mothers of India were in the same mind that how to save their children’s from a law like NPR and NRC.”
This is an excerpt from a letter Nasreen wrote to her three kids, explaining the events that led to the historic Shaheen Bagh protests. It alludes to the night of December 15, 2019, when Delhi Police barged into Jamia Millia Islamia and used tear gas and batons, and allegedly even bullets, on students during an ongoing protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens (NRC). Muslim residents of the neighbourhood—already worried over the possibility of themselves or their loved ones landing in detention camps—were aghast that the protectors of law had wielded their batons on students, who felt like their own. By December 16, the collective pain and anger spurred a momentous sit-in protests 3.5 km away from the university campus, led by ordinary women sloganeering in extreme winter, who managed to block an arterial road for 101 days, till—not the law, police or politicians—the nationwide Covid lockdown compelled them to abruptly end their fight to revoke the contentious laws.