Najima Bibi has been fighting for the rights of Muslim women and their development in Manipur. She is the first Muslim woman to contest elections in her state.
But Bibi now faces a huge obstacle in her path – threats from religious fundamentalists.
Reports say that a threat against Bibi has been issued by fundamentalists. In the event of her death, fundamentalists will not let her body be buried.
Those supporting her have also been reportedly warned of similar consequences.
Hurdles have been placed before Najima’s path by the fundamentalists since 2006. They opposed her activism for the upliftment of Muslim women in Manipur. They issued a fatwa against Bibi and her family.
Yet unperturbed by the fatwa, she continued to work for the welfare of the women of her community.
When iconic rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila formed Peoples’ Resurgence and Justice Alliance (PRJA) to contest elections in the state, Bibi joined her.
She will contest from Wabgai in Thoubal district, one of the 10 seats on which PRJA is contesting.
It is probably her decision to contest elections that has irked the fundamentalists in the state leading them to issue the threat of denying her a resting place after her death.
Will Najima be deterred? No. A very strong-willed woman, Najima chose to marry on her own will and go for a divorce when she found her husband was abusive.
She defied the 2006 fatwa by drawing water from a well declared off-limits for her. Najima has been fighting for the rights of women, their education and social standing for almost 15 years.
Many Muslim women and men now stand with her despite the threats issued against her.
Wabgai goes to polls on March 8.