The arrest of PTI chief Imran Khan on Tuesday triggered protests across the country and it has been chaotic ever since. With several videos of the protests going viral on social media, none were as striking as a video of a woman standing alone in front of police officers in Lahore’s Cantt area.
In the video, the woman, identified as Tayyaba Raja, throws a black chadar on the ground and strides towards the police. A policeman then grabs her by the hair and pulls her towards a larger contingent of law enforcers.
Raja tweeted about the incident in Urdu, saying, “The policeman cursed at me and told me to get out of here. I said, ‘We are Pakistanis, you are Pakistani, how can you do this to us?’ But he still continued to curse at me. I couldn’t tolerate that and without another thought in my mind, I marched straight ahead and threw the dupatta towards him and said, ‘You can wear this dupatta.’ I still stand by my words, all those who are a part of this dirty system, should put on bangles and dupattas, because they are not going to show their faces. Damn you all.”
Netizens were shocked by the violence towards social media influencer and praised her for her courage.
Users urged more women to be like her and praised her strength.
Some people said “Imran Khan’s secret weapon is the women of Pakistan.”
The incident was commemorated by an artist who paid tribute to Raja. Some people said Raja’s bravery was indicative of the resilience shown by women during the protests.
Another user spoke about women who have made history by leading the way against state oppression, giving examples of Malala Yousafzai, Sudan’s Alaa Salah and Iran’s Mahsa Amini. He shared an animated picture of the influencer with “Sinf-e-Aahan” written on it, which means woman of steel.
Actor Armeena Khan also tweeted about Raja’s courage, pointing out the slogan on the billboard behind her that read “strong”. The actor said, “I love how the slogan behind matches the situation. Yes, you are strong Tayyaba!”
People on Twitter also praised the resilience shown by all women during the protests and the fact that they’re very much on the frontlines.
Another harrowing video that has been circulating on Twitter and retweeted by PTI leader Hammad Azhar is of a woman, purportedly a wheelchair user, being dragged by the police. Dawn has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the video.
Seeing violence against women, especially the video of Raja, is very concerning. Violence is never the answer. It isn’t the answer for citizens and it certainly isn’t the answer for the state. We hope everyone is staying safe.