More than 100 women and men began an indefinite sit-in on a street in a residential area of Central Mumbai on Sunday night, demanding that the government repeal the Citizenship Amendment Act that was passed in Parliament in December 2019.
Several more protesters joined the group on Monday morning and their numbers are expected to rise during the day. Titled “Mumbai Bagh”, the protest has been inspired by Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, where hundreds of women have been protesting the new Citizenship Act continually for last six weeks.
The Mumbai Bagh protest began at 10 pm on January 26 on a street that was already partially barricaded because it is under repair. By midnight, dozens of police personnel completely barricaded the entrance to the street and spent several hours appealing to the protesters to call off their agitation. Several local legislators also arrived on the scene to mediate between the police and the protestors, who refused to leave. By dawn, as several protestors took breaks to tend to their families, the police relaxed their vigil.
“We are not going to move from here till the central government repeals the CAA and agrees not to implement the NRC [National Register of Citizens] and the NPR [National Population Register],” said Fatima Khan, a law student who is a part of Hum Bharat Ke Log, one of the collectives organising the Mumbai Bagh protest. “We also want the Maharashtra government to issue a resolution against implementing CAA, NRC and NPR, just like Kerala, Punjab and Rajasthan.”
Most of the protestors at Mumbai Bagh are Muslim housewives, and some of them participated in the sit-in with young children on their laps.
“We do not enjoy dropping all our work and having to protest like this, but the government has left us no option,” Asma Khan, a 43-year-old housewife who sat at the protest through the night with her 17-year-old daughter, told Scroll.in. “The government wants to make lakhs of people stand in line to show their papers and everybody will suffer. If we had protested like this during demonetisation, we would not have to do this now.”