Udaipur, “ This is no time to keep mum. Silence is not an option for conscientious people in our times.” This was stated by noted journalist and author of the best selling book Gujarat Files Rana Ayyub in the inaugural function of the Eighth Conference of All India Progressive Women’s Association ( AIPWA) in Udaipur, Rajasthan as key speaker. She said that usually journalists are not supposed to put their opinion. They report facts. But when innocent people are killed on streets they too feel pain. She said that one journalistic feat that she was proud of was the sting that led to the arrest of Amit Shah and later even the Supreme Court of India restricted his entry into the state. She said that the Modi government has done one good thing. It has driven out bitterness from all so that now we know who are with us and who not. Today all those sitting here are real patriots because they want that all the people of India should live together. Rana said that it is a pity that in Gandhi’s India we do not listen “ Vaishnav Jan to Tene kahiye” but we listen “ Goli Maro Salon Ko” coming from treasury benches.
Kannad writer and theatre personality D. Saraswathi was the chief guest of the function. In her address she said that patriarchy goes well with capitalism and casteism. If one has to fight patriarchy she has to fight capitalism as well as caste. She said that no movement can be complete without the participation of women. It was heartening that now women have taken the lead in the protest against dictatorship. Citing some tales from Buddha P.Saraswathi said that the struggle against dictatorship should be done with the weapons of truth, non-violence and sacrifice. She advocated for a fight against consumerism also because it has commoditized women.
General Secretary of AIPWA Meena Tiwari welcomed the guests and delegates. She remembered Meera Bai of Rajasthan as a revolutionary who challenged patriarchy as well as feudalism. She remembered Kali Bai Khant who sacrificed her life fighting for education for all. She remembered Srilatha Swaminathan who led AIPWA for many years and was a committed leader of women and toiling masses. Meena Tiwari mentioned the sacrifice of Savitri Bai and Fatima Sheikh describing them as icons of women’s struggle for their rights. She said that CAA, NPR and NRC are tools to polarize Indian citizens on communal lines. Women have stood up to resist them and no amount of pressure of the government will be able to suppress women now. Secretary of Rajasthan PUCL Kavita Shrivastava said that this is a fight for the constitution of this country. Either will remain or the constitution will remain. People of India need to decide whether they stand for the constitution or the divisive politics of a political party. She said that we reject CAA which puts the citizenship of our people in doubt. She said that we demand complete citizenship with all our rights including education, health, wages, pension and employment.
Sumaiya , a student of Aligarh Muslim University narrated the incidents of oppression of police in Jamia, Aligarh and other parts of Delhi. She said that students are protesting not for themselves but for the entire nation. She said that students were arrested and in police custody were forced to say “ Jai Shri Ram”.She said that if Muslims do not remain in India , it will not be the same India that the constitution made.
The former state secretary of AIDWA Sumitra Chopra, state secretary of NIFW Nisha Siddhu and national secretary of AIPWA Kavita Krishnan also addressed the inaugural session. Organizing secretary and state secretary of AIPWA Rajasthan , Prof. Sudha Chaudhary offered the vote of thanks and felicitated the guests.
Before the rally the flag of AIPWA was hoisted and rich tributes were paid to the martyrs of people’s struggles. In the morning more than seven hundred delegates from more than twelve states including Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Delhi, Punjaband many more participated in a relly which passed through the main markets of Udaipur and converged back at the Comrade Srilatha Swaminathan convention Hall. The two –day conference will continue on Sunday also.