Tuesday, April 23, 2024

UP: Women protesters kept under house arrest; vow to fight against CAA 

Photo: Shaheen Abdulla

Police in numbers are stationed outside the house of Sumaiyah Rana (49), located in Qaiser Bagh of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh on Thursday evening.

This is the second time in a month that police have surrounded her house before Friday, according to her, “They are expecting a protest on Friday, and to prevent my participation they are trying to surveil my movement. If we want to protest, we will.”

On March 15, Sumaiyah Rana, along with her younger sister Uroosa Rana were allegedly kept under house arrest from morning to evening for leading protests in 2020 opposing the Citizenship Amendment Act.

Rana, who is the national spokesperson of the Samajwadi party and vice president of the women’s wing of the party alleged that she had been informed by her security guards and house help that her house is gheraoed by the police from outside. Rana is the eldest daughter of late Urdu poet Munawwar Rana.

Speaking to Maktoob, she said, “This has now become a routine, every now and then they come outside my house and make it a buffer zone to surveil my movement. They kept me under house arrest on 15th March, when rules for the Citizenship Amendment Act were notified, for the entire day.”

Rana said, “Now they think they can intimidate and harass us through these tactics, they are mistaken. They should know by now, that every time they will try to implement an unconstitutional law such as CAA, we will be against it every time. There will be a protest, be it in any form. They can trample us physically by threatening us, but cannot trample our democratic voices.”

She said that she adheres to her previous stand with regards to CAA and that no police force, intimidation and harassment will be able to change it. “We opposed it yesterday, today, and tomorrow and the day after, because it is not only unconstitutional but discriminatory towards Muslims.”

“It is very shameful that they are not letting us pray peacefully even during the holy month of Ramadan. I visited my mother every day after our father passed away recently. She is a widow, grieving her husband’s death and all she has is us by her side but these public servants who have now turned goons are not even letting us meet her”, said a national spokesperson of SP.

She added, “Why not put us in jail for once and for all? What is the point of making our house a police station every other day? But they should know that even if we are put in jail, the protest against anything unjust and wrong is not going to stop. If we want to protest against anything wrong, like CAA, we will. This is our democratic right granted by the Constitution. We are not bound to inform the police, government or any other institution.”

“Hum ko dil se bhi nikala gaya aur phir sheher se bhi, hum’en patthar se bhi mara gaya aur phir zeher se bhi (I was ousted by the heart and then from the city, I was killed by stones and then poisoned too)”, Uroosa Rana (36) recalled this couplet of poet Azm Shakri while talking about the situation of Muslims in India and how she and other anti-CAA voices in Uttar Pradesh are facing police atrocities.

Rana said, “The condition of a Muslim in India is exactly like the subject of this couplet who was not spared and was killed multiple times. Sometimes by betrayal and other times by the physical attack conspired against him.”

Talking about the house arrest she said, “Our Muslim identity is the biggest mistake in this country. We are Muslims, who are vocal against injustice and critical of the wrongdoings of the government. So if you want to punish us like that, this is not going to make any difference for us. We will keep resisting.”

Criticising the CAA, she said, “If they are misusing their power to tweak the laws and to bring in laws which are discriminatory to Muslims, it was not accepted in the past and will not be accepted today. The government has to take it back. We are equal citizens of the country and everyone including the establishment has to accept the fact that we, our fathers and our grandfathers are equal stakeholders of this nation as we have fought for its independence equally. They should forget that we will never accept CAA or become second-class citizens, let alone go to Pakistan as their puppets keep telling us. We will keep raising our voices against CAA that discriminates against people based on their religious identity.”

Speaking in the same tone as her father, poet Munawwar Rana, Uroosa said, “Kisi ke baap ka mulk thodi hai? (This nation is not owned by somebody’s father).”

According to Rana, on March 15, police came in six to seven vehicles. At least 12 of them entered her house in Lal Bagh and prevented her from visiting her widow mother. Police did not allow her to visit the bank or visit the school of her son to collect his report card.

She said, “Such actions of the Bhartiya Janta Party show and substantiate that what they are doing is wrong and they will have to face widespread protests and resistance from the public, and hence they are putting us under house arrests. Protest is a democratic right and hence it is wrong. Curtailing that democratic right with force and power is wrong.”

Sarah Ahmed, a member of Fraternity Movement (A student organisation), and her family members also received multiple phone calls from the Sallahpur police station near her residence in Bamrauli in Prayagraj of Uttar Pradesh on March 15.

A police constable also reached the school where Ahmed teaches on the same day to confirm her whereabouts and whether she comes to school daily.

Ahmed is a teacher by profession and was one of the key architects of anti-CAA protests in Raushan Bagh in Prayagraj in 2020.

“First they called my brother to learn where I was on the day, they were told I was in school and then they called on my number to confirm if I was in school”, said Ahmed.

This is not the first time that police have tried to track her movement. According to her, she and her father have received similar calls from multiple police officers in the past inquiring about her.

Ahmed said, “The police station is in the same area I live in, so it’s easier for them to keep an eye on me and my family members.”

“A police constable also came to my school and asked the peons if I was in school and how frequently I take leaves. I was told after the constable left the school”, she added.

The 30-year-old who lives with her parents when reached home was informed by her brother that he had also been questioned on the phone by the police about her and was told that she should remain in the house except for school.

Ahmed has now returned to her normal life after the 2020 protests against CAA but holds the same view regarding the law.

She said, “As long as there will be a mention of CAA, the resistance and protests will be alive and there will always be people who are against it because it is blatantly unconstitutional and discriminatory.”


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