Amid the shuttered shops and road barriers, New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh has emerged as one of the most recognisable spots of protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
Braving the chilly winters, women are leading the demonstrators in this hotbed of resistance.
However, the protests have resulted in closing of the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch leading to massive chaos.
The stretch in south Delhi connects Delhi, Faridabad in Haryana and Noida in Uttar Pradesh, was closed on December 15, 2019, due to the agitation.
Rejecting a plea seeking court directions to withdraw the closure of Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh road on Tuesday, the Delhi High Court asked the police to conduct its work responsibly and asked them to look into the matter in larger public interest and deal with issue of maintaining law & order.
Amit Sahni, an advocate and social activist in his public interest litigation (PIL) said that the closure was causing huge inconvenience to lakhs of commuters, who have been compelled to take different routes every day for the last one month.
He added that alternative routes result in hours of traffic jams, wastage of time and fuel.
It said children, who take that route, are compelled to leave home two hours before their school opens. It claimed that the authorities have failed to take appropriate action to give relief to the residents of the locality and lakhs of commuters of Delhi, UP and Haryana.
Earlier on January 10, the High Court refused to entertain another plea seeking directions for the removal of demonstrators protesting the CAA at Shaheen Bagh in order to clear road blockages causing traffic congestions.
Shaheen Bagh Protests:
Shaheen Bagh protests began with just 15 local women on the afternoon of 14 December 2019. Later more locals joined in and it has since became a 24/7 sit-in protest.
With crowds reaching as high as 100,000 on Sundays, this protest has become the longest sit-in protest of this magnitude of modern India.
The protesters mostly include women homemakers, including grandmothers, mothers and children.
The protest that started against CAA and police brutality, has manifested into wider issues such as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR), and the BJP government in general.
The protesters have also supported unions opposing the governments “anti-labour policies”.
Volunteers have crowd-sourced hundreds of books and stationery items.
Some women arrive in the morning, staying until the wee hours of the next day before going home for a few hours. When they leave, others take their place. The numbers change daily, ranging from several hundred to a few thousand. Children of all ages scamper around, waving national flags bigger than they are.
They say they will not leave until the law is repealed.
The CAA fast-tracks citizenship applications by non-Muslims from India’s neighbouring Muslim-majority nations of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Along with a proposed national register of citizens, critics termed as the law “communal” and “unconstitutional” as the CAA will discriminate against India’s Muslim minority population.