LUCKNOW: Han kehne ki azadi, na kehne ki azadi”,chant hundreds of womenwho have defied the cold and the Uttar Pradesh police to sit on continuous dharna at the Hussainabad Ghanta Ghar in Lucknow. Care givers, home makers the women have left the comfort of their walls to sit together with their children against the Citizenship Amendment Act, National Register of Citizens and the National Population Register. Interestingly, there is not one amongst them who does not know why she is there, ask them and the immediate response is, “this is our country they cannot take away our citizenship from us.”

Many are sitting in protest along with their children. To criticism that they have deliberately brought their children as protection they laugh, “these people have nothing to say really. Our babies will protect us! We have brought them because we do not have anyone to leave them with, this is our home now and it is theirs too until the government listens.”

The government’s police is meandering around, in hordes. The night before they swung into action with a threatening stance that would have subdued any citizen, and while some admitted to be scared they were resolute in their decision not to move. So the cops first drove away the vendors who were providing street food to the women and others at the spot. And then they took away the blankets that had been donated by well wishers to keep the women war. Somaiya Rana, one of the many organisers said, “they took those blankets away, but we have arranged more. We are not allowed to put up a tent, and the women are sitting under the open skies in the bitter cold. But we have more blankets and all that we need organised again.”

“We have come out of our homes determined to make the government revoke these black laws, and we will sit here. They are arresting our menfolk thinking that they will break our backs, but they cannot, they will not be able to, we are not going to back off,” one of the protestors said. (See video below)

The police has been threatening them, but not directly. As one of the women on the site said,” they are not telling us to go or not to go, they are just taking away the little that we have gathered to protect us from the weather.” On Sunday over 10000 women and others were at Ghanta Ghar during the course of the days, and at any given point in time the organisers say that 300-500 women are sitting on dharna. The women represent all religions, and are taking comfort in the unity that has emerged over the days since they took a cue from Shaheen Bagh in Delhi to sit in defiance of the state government.

Initially the women were from areas in Lucknow. Now they have been joined by women from neighbouring districts, and even from Basti and Siddharthanagar. Women members of the All India Democratic Womens Association have also joined the protestors, with songs, slogans penetrating Lucknows cold air at this historic site. Interestingly, no one is willing to move until these laws and decisions are revoked. This despite the brutality of the Yogi Adityanath police that killed at least 20 persons across UP, and injured many more.

Lucknow has joined the women of Kanpur and Allahabad who are also sitting with quiet determination for secularism and democracy.