Mumbai Bagh women say 'wrong delegation met home minister'
Activist Feroze Mithiborwala claims that the team comprised mostly politicians, who tried to establish control over them; says protest to continue till demands are met
Days after a committee claiming to represent Mumbai Bagh met home minister Anil Deshmukh and held talks about withdrawing the protest, the women who have been protesting against CAA-NRC-NPR at Morland Road, Nagpada, since January 26, claimed that it was just a group of politicians trying to establish control over them. Addressing a press meet at the venue, the women said that they want to distance themselves from the delegation that had met Deshmukh and that they would continue the protest till demands were met.
Activist Feroze Mithiborwala, along with a few other women, took centre stage while addressing the media around 3 pm on Friday. Mithiborwala said, "We are following a Shaheen Bagh type model. The girls and boys of Nagpada had initiated the protest. They are the ones who invited us. When activists get involved, there is a strong desire to implement satyagraha since we are all Gandhian in nature. When we first came and sat here on January 26, the local netas didn't want us around. They asked why we hadn't contacted them before? But we knew that if we had contacted them, we would have never been able to claim the streets as a sign of protest."
"By 5 am on January 27, the police wanted us to move out but the politicians supported us. But what they (politicians) didn't do is let the activists become a part of the protest. Even the delegation that went to meet the home minister, of which I was a part, comprised leaders from the SP, NC, AIMIM and Congress. The politicians wanted to be the sole negotiators in the matter. There were barely any women in the delegation. These politicians didn't even address the women for once. They wanted to control the andolan, not support it."
Speaking about what went wrong when the delegation went to meet Deshmukh, he said, "Women were not taken into confidence and their opinions were not considered. The protesting women had never asked for protection from politicians. False claims have been made on their behalf. After the meeting, the politicians came here and tried to convince the women to call off the protest. They were confident that the women could be convinced. But the protesters refused to budge."
Mithiborwala further said that within the next 48 hours, a Mumbai Bagh Committee would be formed, comprising women who have been staging the protest since Day 1.
"It will not involve politicians but have only volunteers and coordinators. Leaders will emerge as the movement goes on," he added.
When asked what would be different about the protest hereon, he said, "The number of people taking part will increase. We are creating a committee to help stabilise and streamline the protest. There is a need for more structured decision making."
On being asked whether they had police permission, he said, "We are working towards it but permission or no permission, we will sit here until our demands are met. We also request Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to consider the demands of the people and bring in a resolution against the CAA, NRC and NPR."
'Politicians let us down'
One of the women protesters said, "We are following the Shaheen Bagh model. If we move away from here, then the stance of the women protesting at Shaheen Bagh becomes weak. We cannot let that happen." Another woman said, "The politicians have let us down. We have never accepted them as our representatives. They (politicians) left once they realised they could not control us. We don't want anyone to vouch for us. We are here in our own individual capacity."
When asked if the politicians played the role of middlemen, she said, "Women who have been actively protesting here were not made a part of it. We still don't know what the politicians wanted."
Replying to the query on whether it was the wrong delegation that went to meet Deshmukh, another woman said, "Yes. Core issues were not discussed by the delegation."
"We are people who come from normal backgrounds. We do not come out on the roads every day to protest…so we are learning the ropes as we go along. They (politicians) tried to sabotage the protest but it didn't work."
Mithiborwala concluded, "People need to understand the importance of this protest. We have made mistakes and I apologise for that, but things will be clearer henceforth."
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