‘Traffic At Shaheen Bagh A Mess But A Small Price For…’

Mohammad Atif, a 24-year-old M Tech student who stays in Shaheen Bagh, says the cause to save our Constitution is bigger than the minor inconvenience for the local commuters in the locality

I belong to Lucknow but have been staying in south Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh area for several months at my cousin’s house. I came here to complete my M. Tech dissertation which coincided with the eruption of Jamia protests and the aftermath. And what a time it has been to be in Shaheen Bagh!

I had to visit my institute in South Delhi daily when the protests were in full swing. I did have to take a longer route to reach because of the arterial 2.5 km stretch at Shaheen Bagh being closed. The protest site isn’t disturbing people as much as the excessive blockades /barriers put in place by the administration even when some feel they are not needed.

ALSO READ: ‘Govt Must Talk To Protesters’

Even newspapers/websites are now reporting that a few of the alternative routes didn’t even need to be blocked and is causing problems to people unnecessarily, especially those travelling to and from Noida, Sarita Vihar, Kalindi Kunj, Jamia, and an alternative route to Faridabad.

Indeed travelling into and out of Shaheen Bagh is even more cumbersome for a daily commuter. For me too, with petrol prices remaining consistently high, travelling the extra stretch to reach my institute on a bike has increased the budget for sure, though not considerably.

ALSO READ: ‘Shaheen Inspired Kadru Bagh In Ranchi’

Many people who earlier used to get picked up and dropped at their respective houses for their offices in Noida now have to take the Metro as the cabs can’t enter inside Shaheen Bagh. This might be a difficult thing, especially for women who get dropped during the night. Moreover, travelling in the Metro also cause a dent in many people’s pockets. Middle class might not feel the pinch as much, but the lower income group for whom every penny is important, is finding it more difficult.

However, most locals are considering it as their contribution to nation-building and don’t mind suffering a little bit if the protest makes their voices reach the powers that be. Ambulances and school buses are moving easily though.

WATCH: ‘Modi Has Woken Up A Sleeping Tiger’

The protest site is near the commercial hub of Shaheen Bagh, so many a shop, outlet etc. have been closed for two months now. It is affecting the livelihoods of people, but again they feel that they are contributing in saving the Constitution and all that it stands for. We just hope that a solution is reached soon and the government initiates a dialogue with the protesters.

There are a few residences near the protest site and I wonder how they are handling all the sounds from loudspeakers day in and day out, though I have been told and have witnessed too ke protest bahut tameez se ki ja rahi hai. Poora khayal rakha ja raha hai ke kisi ko koi pareshani na ho (The protests are being done in a very nice manner and care is being taken that nobody suffers because of the protests).

Watch – Sharjeel Imam Says CAA Last Straw That Broke Muslims’ Back

After a massive manhunt, Delhi Police has arrested Sharjeel Imam, one of the organisers of anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh. Police in four states have filed cases against Imam under various charges ranging from sedition and inflammatory speech to challenging the integrity of India. LokMarg spoke to Imam about his views on CAA, Assam and Shaheen Bagh, a few days before his arrests.

‘Mothers Are At Shaheen Bagh To Save Their Children Future’

Aqsa Khursheed, a 19-year-old Political Science student, says the protest at Shaheen Bagh will not peter out because it is run by mothers who are battling for their children’s well-being

The demonstration at Shaheen Bagh started on December 15 and there are no signs of the protest wearing off. It is amazing to see the sheer number of people and their steely strength to stay put for the cause. People from all religions have been registering their presence at the protest site. The protest site at Shaheen Bagh is a five minute walk from my place, so I have been witnessing it from the start.

While the women sit and sleep near the main stage, men form a circle or sort of human chain around the women to keep them safe. From 3-month-old babies to 12- year-old kids, the kids accompanying their mothers don’t know that history is being created. We are working on Gandhian principles and you can call our protest as Satyagraha.

ALSO READ: If Amit Shah Can’t Budge, We Too Won’t

If you were to ask me what is giving the women of Shaheen Bagh the strength to carry on in this severe cold of Delhi, I would say it is maa ka jazba (a mother’s passion). There is no power bigger or stronger than the love that a mother feels for her child.

Most women want a safer country for their children, and that is why they are here. Also, many women felt sad about the fact that they couldn’t do much when the students at Jamia were being beaten up last month. They say that if their children (Jamia students) can stand fearlessly, they too can. Maaon ko thand nahi lagti (A mother knows not what cold weather is).

Aqsa Khursheed with an anti-CAA placard at Shaheen Bagh protest site

Shaheen Bagh in Delhi has become the epicentre of protests against Citizenship Act and NRC (National Register of Citizens) and we have assembled here to save the Constitution as well as our constitutional rights.

WATCH: ‘Modi Has Woken Up A Sleeping Tiger’

We are very well organised and connected. Several days back, there were reports that the police were trying to remove the protestors from the site, after a heavy police presence was seen in the area. Around 4 pm on Sunday (January 5) many police vans, buses etc had gathered up near the site. The word spread and in less than an hour, swarm of people began pouring in at Shaheen Bagh to show their solidarity with the protesters.

Shaheen Bagh has shown to what lengths people can go if they are determined about what they want. Menfolk aren’t complaining about women being at the protest site day in and day out. It is heartening to see that my father, who till a few days ago didn’t know how to cook, keeps on telling my mother, “You be comfortable and go to the protest site, I will take care of myself. I will make my own tea or the food that I want to eat.” He thinks there is nothing more important for my mother than saving the Constitution.

WATCH: How Supporters Keep Shaheen Bagh Alive

The residents of Shaheen Bagh have opened their doors to anyone who comes to the protest site. The level of trust people have in each other is a beautiful experience. People from far off are coming to Shaheen Bagh. We are here to safeguard our fundamental rights as citizens of this country (Articles 14- 32 of the Constitution) and we hope the government will listen to us soon. We have faith that the situation will change, now that the people have woken up to both their rights and duties as citizens.

Anti-Citizenship Law Protest In Delhi

‘If Amit Shah Can’t Budge On CAA, Shaheen Bagh Won’t Either’

Shaheen Kousar, a 44-year old protester at Shaheen Bagh, tells LokMarg why Muslim women have come out to resist Modi government’s move on Citizenship Act and National Register of Citizen

Yes, I am Shaheen from Shaheen Bagh. And I, along with many other women, have resolved to take this battle forward with my faith and inner strength. The Modi government has to listen to what we have to say about CAA-NRC. Is the government wondering as to why the Muslim women who did not take to streets even when the Triple Talaq Bill was brought in, have now come out in such a strong manner? Because now the very existence of our children and our own existence and this country’s social fabric is at stake.

Our protest site is located near NH-24 and is known as the Shaheen Bagh Highway. While some people are complaining that our protest is affecting traffic, many other people from other parts of Delhi are coming to us and interacting with us and telling us that they support us.

It is heartening to see that people from all religions are showing their love and support to us. It’s not like we don’t feel cold and tired. We go home only for 4-5 hours every day. But till the time we are at the protest site, people who have their residence near the site have opened their homes (including their kitchens and washrooms) for us.

People used to say that in big cities people don’t even interact with their neighbours, but look at the beauty of it, how people are now trusting complete strangers because they believe in a common goal. To put it succinctly, the warmth of human interactions isn’t letting us feel the cold.

Moreover, we are protesting in an organized manner. We have divided duties among ourselves. Some people are responsible for food, others for sanitation, and a few others for security. Thankfully the organisation of the protest has been so good that no untoward incident has taken place. Is bar aar ya paar wali bat hai (This is a do or die situation). If our Home Minister isn’t ready to go back an inch, then we are also staying put here.

It’s not like we don’t understand the nitty-gritties of what an act like CAA entails deep down. Having to manage chilly weather, biting winters coupled with rains, police batons, household work as well as office work, nothing is going to weaken our resolve that the government take this act back.

Amit Shah as well as our Prime Minister Narendra Modi have said it is just about giving citizenship to people (except Muslims) from three countries. Fine, but then what are these detention centres being prepared for? It is for those inside the country who won’t be able to prove their citizenship. The government is giving confusing signals whether detention centres exist or not. This time we aren’t going to take things at face value.

If they can hurt unarmed and vulnerable students in Jamia and JNU, who is to say that things are going to be better later on? The NRC exercise in Assam showed there were only 19 lakh people who couldn’t prove their citizenship, then the government brought in CAA. Now they are talking about NPR (National Population Register).

I am a director at a school and by God’s grace, like many other women, I have been able to manage my home, my professional life as well as coming to the protest site. We are doing all this for our nation, for our children and we hope God will keep providing us with the strength to carry forward. If the kids can be strong and fearless in the face of brutality fir to hum bhi beraham aur tang-nazar logon ke samne aawaz utha hi sakte hain. Magar hum wo aawaz shanti se uthana chahte hain. (if students can show their resistance to police brutality, we too can raise our voice against a suppressive, and narrow-vision regime. But we want to raise this voice democratically and peacefully). Our resolve should speak volumes.