[On 3rd January, the women organising the event began a social media campaign that called on all women and transwomen, who come from Dalit communities, minority religions. (Chalo Nagpur Facebook campaign page)]
Nagour: Thousands of women from Maharashtra and other parts of India Friday, on the occasion of 120th death anniversary of Savitribai Phule, marched to RSS bastion Nagpur and protested against Hindutva and Manuvad - casteism and religious patriarchy.
The protest march titled as "Chalo Nagpur" began at 10:00 in the morning. By noon, more than 3,000 women had gathered at Indora Maidan. The protestors shouted slogans, put up musical and dance performances and recited poetry.
“There is so much energy here,” said Avipsha Das, a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University and member of Pinjra Tod – a feminist collective that challenges sexist rules in women’s hostels.
Das travelled from Delhi to Nagpur for the march along with 15-20 other students.
Radhika Vemula, mother of Rohith Vemula also travelled from Hyderabad to Nagpur to join the protest march. Rohith Vemula, a student of Hyderabad varsity had allegedly committed suicide alleging bias and discrimination.
Radhika Vemula denounced the attempts to deny her caste identity and used the platform to draw attention to another march being organised in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, on March 14 to fight for justice for her son.
Nagpur was chosen because it houses the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) headquarters. It is also the “home of the movement by BR Ambedkar for the rights of women and the Dalit community,” said Vani Subramanian, film-maker and activist.
“Savitribai Phule had worked in Nagpur. So, there is also a positive energy there that we want to harness", she said.
Manjula Pradeep, who was the executive director of Navsarjan, Gujarat’s largest Dalit organisation, and one of the organisers of Chalo Nagpur, called the march an intersectional attempt to bring women from different backgrounds to the forefront of leadership to protest what marginalised communities experience in India.
"By bringing together women who, apart from being discriminated based on their gender are also discriminated against based on caste, class, religion, disability, sexuality or because they are sex workers, Chalo Nagpur is meant to be a reminder that they will not keep quiet", she said.
The decision to hold 'Chalo Nagpur' was taken by women leaders of various marginalised groups last year.
"The idea is also to provide platforms from which minority women leaders can be heard we do know afterall how even within left-wing minority movements in the last year, the voices of women protestors have sometimes been considered less important", the organisers said.
On 3rd January, the women organising the event began a social media campaign that called on all women and transwomen, who come from Dalit communities, minority religions, and those belonging to the queer community to tweet and post videos of why themselves talking about why they are against Hindutva factions and Manuvad.
Rituparna Borah, a queer feminist activist who is also organising the protest said that the women’s movement in India has until now been very scattered and often doesn’t encompass issues faced by minorities — there haven’t been enough intersectional movements across the country.
"In Chalo Nagpur, the women have come together despite differences in caste, religion, sexuality and work, she says, to ensure their voices are heard", Borah said.