Thousands of people gathered at Shaheen Bagh, the venue of a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, on Tuesday night to welcome 2020 with the hope that the new year will see the law being repealed.
It was the 18th day of the demonstration at Shaheen Bagh against the amended citizenship law.
Around two to three thousand people, including women and female college students, gathered along the road in Shaheen Bagh, the tarpaulin-shaded venue for the protest.
The people at the “peaceful protest” against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) held posters, placards and the tricolour in their hands at the demonstration resounding with “Inquilab Zindabad” slogans.
“I have come in the hope that something good happens in the new year. I have come here because I was told that after Jamia and AMU, if you have to rekindle hope, go to Shaheen Bagh,” Yogendra Yadav of Swaraj India said as one of the speakers from the stage.
Quoting legendary film lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi’s line “jinhe naaz hai Hind par wo kahan hain”, Yadav, who was a prominent face of the India Against Corruption movement too, told the crowd: “Jinhe naaz hai Hind par wo yahan hain (Those proud of India are here).“
He also told the protesters that similar demonstrations would be carried out in other parts of the country to oppose the law.
“Wo todenge, hum jodenge (Those in power will break the country, but we, the people, will unite it),” he said, adding the people can win this “fight” banking on the Constitution given by B R Ambedkar and the principles of Mahatma Gandhi.
At midnight, the crowd ushered in the new year with the national anthem.
Meher, 16, and her brother Aman, 12, held placards in their hands, both handwritten poetries. “I am not into the Hindu-Muslim divide, my only concern is that the law discriminates on grounds of religion and that should never happen in India,” the Class 11 student told PTI.
Their father, Mohammed Furqan, said the children on their own chose to come to the protest on the cold night.
“We have been coming to this venue regularly now and also going to other protest venues nearby, like the Jamia University. The children now have access to TV and internet and themselves realise what they need to do,” the 46-year-old businessman said.
“In a family of four, when my children say something and raise concern over some issue and my wife also sides with them, then as the family head, it’s my job to reconsider my stand on it,” he said, adding the leadership of the country should also reconsider its position on the contentious developments instead of categorizing it as a “Muslims only” issue.
Delhi is reeling under a prolonged cold spell as the national capital recorded the second-coldest December since 1901, officials said on Tuesday.
The mood at the protest venue, however, was upbeat with children and women holding the fort.
But it’s been more than two weeks and the demonstration is only getting longer, said protesters.
“There is an expression of solidarity from educational institutions, civil society as they are joining the movement. On previous occasions, the locals in Shaheen Bagh were not involved, but since the attack at Jamia, the society has galvanised unprecedentedly,” local resident Imtiaz Alam, 41, told PTI.
(with PTI inputs)