The Indian Rosa parks | By Ali Tahir

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The Indian Rosa parks

THE year was 1913 and the Cat and Mouse Act was passed by the UK parliament in response to Emmeline Pankhurst’s call to organize hunger strikes in prison to women who were arrested due to demanding equal suffrage in the UK Parliament, i.e the right of vote for women.

The government decided that it would release those prisoners who were force fed but were still likely to become martyrs in the confines of the walls of the jail they found themselves in.

Once recovered, the plan was to re-imprison them.Rather than damaging the movement, this caused a surge in popularity for women’s right to vote in the general populace.

The plan was to intimidate, but the resistance of Pankhurst’s followers tipped the scales as a symbol of resistance.

The year was 1955 and a black women, Rosa Parks, who is arguably the most iconic symbol of resistance against segregation, refused to vacate a seat for a white passenger who did not want to sit with coloured people.

This led to her arrest.Once again this optic of resistance turned the tables on the Alabama government and one year later a Federal Court in the case of Browder & Gayle declared bus segregation unconstitutional.

No one can deny that rising public support had at least some influence on the court’s decision.

Pakistan has had its own share such of such female symbols of resistance.Malala Yousafzai was shot in 2012 on a bus with two other girls by the TTP after taking an exam.

Even though there were two other victims, yet Malala became the face for female education around the globe.

On 12 September 2017 the DGISPR declared that ten militants involved in the attack on Mala Yousafzai had been arrested.

These men were tried by military courts and the Supreme Court of Pakistan declared those court to be constitutional.

This incident was one of the factors instrumental in the decision to launch the military operation.

The recent case of Muskan, the girl who had achieved international fame after a viral video of her being assaulted by dozens of men belonging to the RRS, and with a shared ideology with the BJP, its parent organization, spread like wildfire.

It was her courage to own up her faith by raising slogans of Allah-o-Akbarin the face of a vicious looking and frenzied mob, that is iconic.

This has led India to being embarrassed globally on the international fora.MichaelKugelman has remarked that the flames of hate has spread to schools but the Indian state continued to respond with stark silence.

The incident will by all means damage India’s foreign policy, for instance, their argument to join the OIC based on a significant Muslim population can now be simply be shot down by pointing towards India’s lack of respect for the fundamental rights of Muslim women in India, since there is no doubt that the current state of affairs will restrain females from not only their fundamental right to education but also their fundamental right to participate in the political and the social life of the country.

The Ku Klux Klan, the violent Liberals and the Taliban had to be cut down to size.

In all these instances, there was an absolutenecessity for the state to act, since its writ was being challenged by emboldenedextremists.

There is also no doubt that a confrontation between Hindus and Muslims will benefit both the Karnataka government and the Union government in India, but support will rise for these school going girls and the saner elements in India’s political andbureaucratic establishment know that if the state choses to remain silent, only chaos will emerge.

The ball is currently in the court of the Karnataka High Court and it must set aside the notification of the State government that allows discrimination against young women in Indian schools on the basis of their faith, just like the Indian Supreme Court rescued four Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 1986 case of Bejoe Emmanuel when they did not want to sing the national anthem due to their faith.

The Indian state does not have another option.Muskan’s evident defiance to the attack on her religious liberty will politically effect large scale Indian society, and the world’s outlook on India, of the same sort that Pankhurst, Parks and Yousafzai action’s caused.This is the reason for the title.

—The writer is a barrister and a Professor of Jurisprudence.

 

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