New Delhi: A national minority women’s convention was held in the Constitution Club’s Annexe hall in the national capital which was presided over by various organizations working for democracy and secularism. It was participated by minority women from all over the country who shared their stories of getting targeted in different communal tensions at different times.
The convention which kicked off at 9:30 am was split between three interactive sessions. The first session saw the victims and eye-witnesses of Gujarat, Muzaffarnagar riots and Dhule shootings telling their tales of horror to the jam-packed hall of attendees and media persons.
Khurshida Khatoon, a riot victim from Muzaffarnagar and a member of Aganbari from her native village of Fugana told TCN, “it feels great being a part of the convention which feels like more of a movement and after seeing so much of solidarity here it seems that my family is not alone.”
Bilkis Bano, Sultana Sheikh from Gujarat, Musarrat Jahan (Ishrat Jahan‘s sister) from Mumbai, Madina from Dhule. Mufia from Gopalgarh, Sobhamani Karkaria from Kandhamal and Tahirun Khatoon from Forbesganj were also present at the convention.
Ishrat Jahan’s mother expressed her views on the convention. She said, “I am here because I have faith in such meetings and I want the scourge of oppression be erased from the country and the culprits of violence be brought to book.” She also said that such gatherings are “necessary for a secular India to thrive.”
The second session was held at 2:30 pm which was titled ‘Breaking the stereotypes,’ in which noted speakers and women activists, journalists and film makers like Albeena Shakeel, Arfa Khanum, Meera Rizvi, Saba Azad, filmmaker Samina Mishra and Seema Siddiqui participated.
“At the time when I joined journalism, women were very few and despite my advanced qualifications I was still expected to work in Urdu journalism only because of the stereotypical tag of Muslim woman I was carrying and I tried equally hard not to be thrown into Urdu services,” said Rajya Sabha TV anchor Arfa Khanam with a smile while addressing the gathering.
Farha Naqvi, writer and activist, while taking dig at BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi said, “He made the entire security apparatus of Gujarat chase one single woman. This is the status of woman in Modi’s state where pregnant women were raped and killed on sword points. It is not just minority women who are targeted by the fascist forces but Christians, adivasis and dalits also bear the brunt of their communal ambitions.”
Mohammad Aamir who works in ANHAD shared his excitement over the convention and said, “This convention is for women, their pain, their aspirations and their longing for truth and justice which they are searching for a long time. Only secularism can keep this country as one and only through a democratic struggle we can achieve this goal of an egalitarian society.”
Aamir was acquitted two years of all terror charges after 14 years in jail. His commendable journey from being a terror accused to a peace activist is powered by the “hopes generated by such conventions.”