Women of Shaheen Bagh have been making history by resisting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). While the government of India notified the CAA on January 10 despite nationwide protests, the resistance in Shaheen Bagh also is continuing unhindered.
At this protest site, what is keeping the children--along with others as well--engaged and intrigued is an initiative called ‘Read for Revolution’. Under this project, a mini library has been set up on a narrow pavement outside a shop in Shaheen Bagh. There are mats spread along the perimeter of this small passage for the children to sit. They can pick a book to read or use blank sheets and crayons being provided to make posters, drawings or simply write messages.
The protesters--led by a large number of women--have been voicing their opposition for almost a month now to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the subsequent attacks on the students and protesters opposing the Act--especially following the “brutal attack” by the police in Jamia Millia Islamia. The mini library, which was opened on January 1, aims at engaging and educating the children of the protesters who are keeping the site vibrant round the clock.
Speaking to NewsClick, Usama Zakir, one of the founders of the library said, “This is a space for cultural resistance. We are sending out a message to the State that we will come together and read. We are not trying to fill the children’s heads with hatred, but are trying to inspire them and to make them aware of the situation in the country.”
Most children turning up at this library are under 15 years of age, while some youths and elderly persons, too, can be seen spending time with the children here. Speaking to NewsClick, 10-year-old Arfa said, “I come here every day as soon as I come back from school at 1 pm. We read, paint and draw and sometimes also recite poetry. I enjoy my time here and I understand the importance of coming here.”
The children are given a theme every day--for instance, JNU violence or bushfires in Australia--following which, they paint and reflect on the issue.
Shahbaz, a poet and physics teacher, who is also one of the volunteers at the library, told NewsClick, “We want the children to go back home with something more than just slogans. We want them to know about literature, poetry and the values that our country stands on and through this process, we want to inspire them to work creatively.”
Shanya, a class XII student, said, “I have been coming to Shaheen Bagh for about a month now. This library has now become our space to express and talk to those who come from outside. What we are witnessing is something historic and I don’t want to miss it, we will keep coming here every day until our demands are met.”
Also read: If You Have Not Been There Yet, Go to Shaheen Bagh Now