This week, we read Shaheen Bagh: A Graphic Recollection by Ita Mehrotra, a graphic account of the extraordinary political sit-in led by Muslim women which started on one side of a public thoroughfare in Delhi in December 2019 and continued till March 2020 when it was cleared by the police after the government declared a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The book by Yoda Press voices stories of women who were part of the protest that became the catalyst for a pan-India political movement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC). Based on conversations and interviews, it archives moments from a movement that spread like wildfire through the length and breadth of the country and continues to inspire voices of dissent.
Through the portrayal of women’s stories in image and word, we re-enter poignant dialogues, debates and questions that were raised about citizenship, democracy and minority rights, over the course of the movement. Shaheen Bagh: A Graphic Recollection brings alive the protest that lasted 101 days and forever changed the way women's role in movements would be seen and understood.
We wrote to Ita asking her why she felt compelled to make this book:
"Working on the book was a way to record different perspectives around the anti-CAA movement, through conversations, from the Dadis of Shaheen Bagh to younger women who work in the area and are envisioning what their futures in India will look like. It is a 'recollection', because it holds together moments and memories, pieces of a vast uprising which continues in movements that are unfolding even as we speak; it is recent history and yet completely connected to urgent questions of our present and future, as individuals and as a democratic nation. I feel that working between image and word over the length of a book, I could re-enter and engage with some of the questions, debates and dialogue that the nights at Shaheen Bagh and other anti-CAA protest sites were alive with. And maybe it can in turn become ways for readers to locate their own understanding and relationship to the movement, and also to continue to engage with broader questions of citizenship." -Ita Mehrotra