Children dressed as leaders of the freedom struggle, a map of India with the words, ‘We the people of India reject CAA-NPR-NRC,’ and a replica of India Gate have all cropped up at Shaheen Bagh, the epicenter of the anti-CAA protests. The Preamble to the Constitution is read with fervor here and the BJP is reminded to uphold it.
Pictures by: Lakshman Anand
On January 19, protestors showed their solidarity and sympathy for Kashmiri Pandits who were evicted from their homes on this day. A two-minute silence was observed and then there were speeches and songs. Four Kashmiri Pandits joined and demanded a special investigation team to ensure justice to those killed in Kashmir. They said they supported the CAA but the government should first resettle Kashmiri Pandits and only then consider those from outside Kashmir, they said.
Well-known theatre personality, MK Raina described Shaheen Bagh as one of the biggest Gandhian satyagraha movements after Independence. “This is a movement which will give new shape to our country. We have been a unique country and the uniqueness of our huge diversity is threatened by the recent turn of events in the country. These protesters are determined to reclaim the idea that was envisioned as India. Their protest is for a democratic and humane India which cannot be undermined by some allegations.”
Later, a number of artistes performed. Well-known comedian, Kunal Kamra remarked humorously, “I didn’t come much prepared to speak here. But the Modi government was even less prepared to introduce CAA.”
The evocative Indian People Theatre Association’s song, ‘Tu Zinda Hai’ was sung by Saba Azad, a singer and actor. “We have heard that these days some people have a problem with Faiz. So we’ll recite his verses,” she said and proceeded to recount several of his poems.
Ankur Tewari, a singer, sang ‘Mohabbat Zindabad.” “I will sing in solidarity with you. We are here to stand together,” he said.
Women and children continue to sit out in the cold, with steely determination. Some come from other parts of Delhi to join. There are no signs of this protest abating. In fact, it has grown and become a symbol of resistance, an icon for similar protests. The police can’t end the protests. It has no leader. Neither can the police use force against women with babies and children.
There is fear and anxiety on their faces. The CAA-NRC-NPR are seen as a devious ploy by the government to take away citizenship, repress dissenters and create an authoritarian state.