Safoora Zargar is a 27-year-old M Phil scholar from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. She is a student activist and Media Coordinator of Jamia Coordination Committee. She has been actively participating in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests that had sparked across the country.
Ever since the Bill was introduced in the floor of the Parliament’s House, activists, human rights organizations, international agencies have come out to categorically describe the legislation as discriminatory to the Muslims. What emerged was the largest resistance movement of recent India. Every city and town gathered in solidarity, showed up on the streets to reject the law that violates the secular nature of the Constitution.
The government tried every measure of repression to end the uprising, but the spirit of the protests remained enduring.
In the last week of February, there were multiple waves of bloodshed, property destruction and rioting in North-East Delhi. Homes were burnt; people were lynched on streets in broad daylight. The Muslim community majorly faced the wrath of the violence. What seems to be caused by provocative speeches and mobilization of communal sentiments is now being called a conspiracy of anti-CAA protestors by the Delhi Police.
Ever since the government announced the lockdown due to Covid19, Delhi Police has arrested several peaceful protestors, students, activists, frontline human rights defenders. Among which is Safoora Zargar.
As of today, she is 21 weeks pregnant and suffers from several other pregnancy-related health problems like polycystic ovarian disorder (PCOD) that increases her chances of a miscarriage. It has been two months that a pregnant woman is being locked up in a solitary cell. She has been denied bail thrice, even on humanitarian grounds with worsening health concerns.
No matter which shade of the political spectrum you lie on, this is violation of basic human rights. It is way beyond politics or religion or gender. It is something that should concern all of us, as free thinking citizens of what we still call a democracy.
Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old African-American emergency room technician. After midnight, on 13th March, the Louisville Police used a battering ram to crash into her apartment and after a brief confrontation, they fired several shots, striking her eight times at least.
The police were investigating two men involved in selling drugs, far away from Taylor’s house. But on suspicion that they might have used Miss Taylor’s apartment to receive packages, the police were granted a search warrant. They ended up killing the young woman by shooting eight times without any fault of hers.
Breonna’s mother Tamika Palmer said how she had dreams of working in the healthcare, becoming a nurse, buying a home, starting a family. And everything just shattered within a few minutes. Breonna’s killers are out there, roaming free, with all charges against them being dismissed.
Today, Breonna Taylor would have turned 27. On her birthday, we just wish her soul rests in peace and hope for her justice.
I am telling you these stories because these will not go down in history books. Even social media will forget them after a few weeks when the performative wokeness of so many will fade away. These stories are of resistance against systemic oppression. These stories personify courage and resilience.
Though I would like to call Safoora and Breonna my heroes, I do not intend to romanticize their pain and struggle. The system failed them. Such gross violation of human rights in a democracy is shameful. Young women are paying the price of systemic failures.
I want you to remember their names. Remember their stories.
There is another thing that I would like to bring light upon. If you call yourself a feminist, you cannot choose to be silent about Safoora or Breonna. If your feminism is not inclusive of intersections like race or religion, then sorry, it is not feminism. Your feminism cannot be selective outrage or conveniently apolitical. Feminism is political.
So, it is crucial for us to understand why black women or Muslim women or trans women are more vulnerable, oppressed, marginalized than a white, cisgendered, heterosexual woman. It is crucial to understand that marginalization is multilayered and power structures super impose upon one another. So, intersectionality is the only way to go forward if one has to stay true to a cause.
So, yes. Safoora Zargar. Breonna Taylor. Remember their names. Say their names. Let your feminism be intersectional.