Chalo Nagpur: India’s women march against fascism and caste

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Chalo Nagpur: India’s women march against fascism and caste


Arun Pathak is a politician of the Shiv Sena ('Army of Shiva') party, which has Hindu nationalist views. Kaustubh Tripathi under a Creative Commons Licence

Women from all backgrounds spoke for women’s rights in Nagpur, writes Mari Marcel Thekaekara.

On 10 March 2017, thousands of Indian women and their supporters shouted ‘Chalo Nagpur'. It means ‘Let’s go to Nagpur’, but ‘Chalo’ is also a call for protest used since the start of the Independence movement in India.

Nagpur is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra in the west of the Indian peninsula, It is the headquarters for the Hindutva movement. The Hindutva movement attacks Indian women for not being ‘traditionally dressed’, or for acting in an unHindu or unIndian way. But these are only their ideas.

Women from all over the country arrived at Nagpur to celebrate Indian women and to protest against the caste system, the way men control life, and discrimination of all kinds. The women were meeting to speak against hate and intolerance on 10 March, the 120th anniversary of the death of Krantijyoti Savitribai Phule. She was a great woman who protested for dalit rights in the 19th century. Dalit women, Muslim, adivasi, bahujan, minority, differently abled, queer women, transgender people, sex workers, nomadic tribeswomen, students all protested together – for justice, friendship, peace, freedom, equality, and respect.

Manjula Pradeep, a dalit leader, says, ‘It was very important. Women from different backgrounds, with different ideas came together to talk about our fear as more and more women are exploited. The Hindutva movement is beating up women and men on Valentine’s day, in parks and on beaches They say they are protecting Hindu culture and tradition. It is horrible.’

‘We do not want these people to control the country.’

‘Also it is so good that dalit women now have a place in the women’s movement. We have found answers to many problems. We organised this protest. We also found the money. Women paid their own fares, for their food, for everything. That’s very unusual in a public meeting.’

‘It was so good that we plan now to have protests like this in different big cities.’

Shabnam Hashmi is a woman from Delhi from a privileged background. But that did not stop her pain and suffering. In 1989, her activist brother was murdered when he was in a street play. Now Shabnam spends her life protesting against the Hindutva movement and organising for peace between Hindus and Muslims.

She says, ‘Chalo Nagpur was a very unusual and very important meeting. More than 3,500 women from different backgrounds came together against control by men and the upper caste and Hindutva. It was a protest through songs, poetry, slogans, exhibitions, and speeches. It gave hope that women and transgender people can be a power against the growing fascist and anti women forces in India.’

It gives hope in these difficult times. All power to our women.


(This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have changed).