As the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and NRC continue since the past two weeks, at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh thousands of protesters rang in 2020 with singing the national anthem.
The women came in large numbers along with their children, youth skipped parties and the elderly shun the comfort of watching TV at home on the New Year’s eve. Many people roamed around the venue and thronged kiosks for chai to bear the winter chill, while many more stayed put under the tarpaulin shed listening to speakers taking the stage one by one.
Several roamed around waving national flags while others displayed creative placards against the new law and chanted “Aazadi, Aazadi”.
As the clock struck 12, the protesting crowd burst into a cheer to greet the fellow protesters the new year, and moments later broke into the national anthem in unison which was followed by the slogan “Inquilab Zindabad”.
A group of young working professionals too was a part of the protesters who had come in from various parts of Delhi, skipping party invitations to usher in 2020.
“Of course, I would have been celebrating all through the new year’s eve had the situation been normal,” a 30-year-old man, who works in a private firm was quoted by news agency PTI as saying.
Asked for his name, the man requested anonymity and added, “I don’t want me being here to be identified with any religion. It’s for a bigger cause, it’s to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.”
A city-based artist, who identified herself as “Phool Kumari”, used the platform to also protest against the arrests of some artists in south India who were held by the police over their anti-CAA kollams recently.
A 26-year-old-artist take on the whole issue, “We are living on Orwellian reality. Absurdity is the new normal. Government is using its brute force at wrong places. Arts, and protests, in general should not be held against the citizens.” The artist was busy writing with chalk captions on posters that were used by some protesters at the venue. was writing with chalk, captions on posters that were used by some protesters.
Local men and women too remained at the ground well past 12, in solidarity for the cause they said was the “most important now”.
“Otherwise we would have watched TV at home,” a woman said requesting anonymity.
Shaheen Bagh, near Jamia Millia Islamia, has become a prominent protest venue for people opposed to the CAA and the NRC since December 15.
Besides Delhi, protests have been witnessed across the country over the contentious law.
The amended law seeks to provide citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have faced religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan and have arrived in India on or before December 31, 2014.
Violent protests had been reported earlier from across the nation as locals and students demonstrating against the Act clashed with the police. Campuses too in India have erupted in anger over the amended law with students from at least 15 universities taking on to the streets.
(With PTI inputs)