Many Dimensions of Shaheen Bagh Movement in India

13 Pages Posted: 19 Mar 2020

Date Written: February 24, 2020


The protest in Shaheen bagh began on since December 16, 2019 against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC), National Population Register (NPR) and against police brutalities. Now, more than seventy days later, it emerged as a non-violent, creative and an inspiring movement led by women – a movement against fascism, a movement of reckoning based on the ideology of humanity to protect constitution and its values. Its purpose is to counter the hate and polarization spread by the autocratic majoritarian regime. It is a movement which is writing `herstory’ of collective rebellion by women and children, students and artists, professionals and people who came together to resist against the authoritarian state and its anti-people policies. It is about survival with dignity while protecting one’s identity and existence. It is about protecting the human rights. The movement is a step towards reclaiming the soul of India where young and old generations from diverse communities came together to assert that politics of hate and communalism is unacceptable.

One of the significant aspects of this movement is that the women across the country came together to protect the idea of India and to hold the state accountable. Against the mighty, arrogant, insensitive, devious state, women well aware of dangers of being arrested, of facing lathis, tear gas shells, pellets or guns, of being hit by goons, of being labelled as anti-national, terrorists and jihadis are bravely protesting continuously facing chilly winters and rains of Delhi and are dealing with the violent tactics and threats of forceful eviction deployed by police and state to remove protestors as they claimed to have block the roads. Based on the Gandhian philosophy, embedded in Constitutional values, grounded in the thinking of BR Ambedkar, Savitri Bai Phule, Fatima Nafees, Bhagat Singh, and many other freedom fighters, it began as a leaderless protest without any nexus with any group or political party who could claim its interest.

This movement gained much momentum and within a short span, the ruling party at the Center made Shaheen Bagh an election agenda in the Delhi Assembly elections held in February 2020 where the leaders of BJP made every effort to infantilize, delegitimize and malign the movement using derogatory language and violent actions. In fact, the entire state apparatus and the corporate media is being used to attack peaceful protestors, their cause, action and ideology. Yet, the ideology on which this movement is based emerged victorious and today, Shaheen Bagh has spread to more than 115 places all over India where people are coming out to reclaim their rights, to retrieve democratic ideals and to reject fascism.

Shaheen bagh is a live example to show that democracy implies `rule of the people, by the people and for the people’ where citizens are actively yet peacefully expressing their dissent. Currently, the matter is sub-judiced before the Supreme Court and the mediators are negotiating with protestors. The President of USA on his visit to India has commented that he will discuss about the CAA with the PM of India. Even earlier, several human rights organizations including United Nations have expressed their concerns about the CAA. Hence, Shaheen Bagh has acquired an international dimension too. This piece briefly points out several dimensions of Shaheen Bagh movement and the manner in which it is transforming India.

Keywords: shaheen bagh, citizenship protest CAA, women fascism

Suggested Citation

Nigam, Shalu, Many Dimensions of Shaheen Bagh Movement in India (February 24, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Shalu Nigam (Contact Author)

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