On Saturday Gulfisha Fatima, Gul to her dearest friends will have been in prison in the national capital New Delhi for 18 long months under draconian laws.
“It is a reflection of the painful reality of our country today that these are the moments that have come to mark the lives of young women who dared to dream of a free and just world,” read a statement by several organisations.
“Justice for Gulfisha” programs are held across the country today, including in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Araria, Patna, Badwani, Baroda, Lucknow, Faizabad, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Jaipur, Pune, and many others.
The programs conducted by AIPWA, SAHELI, NFIW, Satark Nagrik Sangathan, AIDWA, Bebaak Collective, Parcham Collective (Bombay), PUCL (Rajasthan), Forum Against Oppression of Women, Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression, Habitat And Livelihood Welfare Association, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (Mumbai), JJSS (Araria, Bihar), Justice Coalitions of Religious(West India), Women and Transgender Organisations (WT-JAC), National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) and Narmada Bachao Andolan.
28-year-old Gulfisha was arrested on the basis of an FIR on the Jaffrabad sit-in protest against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on 9 April last year and slapped with the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) along with Jamia Millia Islamia student leaders Safoora Zargar and Meeran Haider in connection with the Delhi violence conspiracy case.
Currently, Gulfisha stands accused in four FIRs, charged under the anti-terror law UAPA and various serious sections of the IPC such as 302, 307, Arms Act, etc. She has secured bail in all other cases but continues to remain in jail in FIR 59/20 which invokes the UAPA – a law infamous for subverting the most basic constitutional and legal rights.
“I am in depression since my daughter went to jail. I fall unconscious. We don’t have to lose hope because our hope is attached to Allah,” Tanseef Hussain, father of Gulfisha said in a video message shared by journalist Ahmed Kasim.
“An Urdu Masters student of Delhi University, an MBA graduate, a radio jockey — Gul who belongs to Seelampur area of North East Delhi, was a part of the peaceful and vibrant anti-CAA-NPR-NRC movement… It was the energy and beauty of the movement that facilitated and produced the leadership of young local women leaders like Gulfisha. She was not affiliated with any student group/political party or had any earlier experiences of engaging and organising protests. She learned and emerged organically as the movement progressed and strengthened, overcoming many vulnerabilities and building new solidarities across different communities, to become a powerful voice of collective assertion and democratic resistance,” according to the solidarity statement.
The statement said that the anti-Muslim pogrom in northeast Delhi was “unleashed in full collusion with the state police machinery and was followed by numerous arbitrary arrests of anti-CAA-NPR-NRC protesters from Muslim neighborhoods.”
“Gulfisha’s ‘crime’ is the fact that she is a young Muslim woman student who raised sharp and pertinent questions to the current regime in a struggle for safeguarding the fundamental values and ethos of our constitution. Her ‘crime’ is that she decided to speak out against a government and an ideology of hate that dehumanises and inflicts the most brutal violence on Muslim lives. Her ‘crime’ is that she believed and worked for the education, leadership, and emancipation of women who have been historically marginalised, that she dreamed of a feminist citizenship. Her crime is that she loudly sang “nidaar azaad ho jayegi, woh toh naya zamaana layegi,”” the statement went on to say.
Gulfisha’s imprisonment is not an exception, it is a part of a frightening pattern of repression of all democratic and dissenting voices by the current government, they alleged.
In the same case as hers, many like Ishrat Jahan, Tasleem Ahmad, Meeran Haider, Shadab Ahmed, Athar Khan, Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam, Salim Mallick, Salim Khan, Khalid Saifi, Tahir Hussain and Shifa-ul-Rahman continue to languish in jail under draconian UAPA in northeast Delhi violence conspiracy case.
The statement further said: “The question of inclusive citizenship that young leaders like Gulfisha made alive during the anti CAA-NPR-NRC stands even more relevant today. For many who belong to Muslim, Dalit, Adivasi and historically oppressed communities, it is not just democratic resistance which elicits brutal state crackdown. Their very identity and existence has come to be under attack by the terror and fear that has seeped into the fabric of our society through the violent politics of Hindutva. The pandemic has further made the lives of working poor of the country more and more vulnerable and precarious, throwing thousands of citizens into unemployment, deprivation and death, while the government indiscriminately amends and passes laws that create havoc for farmers and workers.”