Protesters who have been camping in south-east Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh around-the-clock to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act for two weeks now, rang in the New Year with slogans of ‘Azadi’.
Scores of people from across the city flocked to the Noida-Kalindi Kunj Highway in a show of solidarity. “Since I did not get a chance to be part of any of the protests related to this matter, today I have come here,” said Nitesh Singh, a resident of Malviya Nagar. He had come to the site with his friends.
People from all walks of like, including artists, professors, students, stood on the highway that has been blocked with police barricades on both ends.
“We are out on the streets to fight for our rights,” said Firdos (32), one of the several housewives who has been leading the protests here in the severe cold.
For the event, posters with messages inviting people from across the city were shared on social media platforms like WhatsApp.
A beautiful rendition
Apart from activists speaking at the event, bands comprising students and others performed songs of revolution and celebrations.
A similar protest celebration, welcoming the new year took place at Jamia Milia Islamia, which too has become a hub for anti-CAA protests in the city.
Pressure from officials
For the past few weeks, the protesters here have been facing pressure from officials to vacate the area in many instances.
Earlier this week, the area SHO had issued a notice, asking the protesters to vacate the area owing to problems in “supply of essential goods and services”.
Also, Resident Welfare Association of the area and a local BJP leader have written letters to the police asking them to call off the protests at Shaheen Bagh.
Meraj Khan, an organiser of the event, said individuals had attempted to flare up tensions among the crowd by making communal speeches and instigating arguments but were “chased away”.
“The policemen have told us that they won’t remove us if the protest is peaceful,” said Khan. However, many protesters at the site were concerned that some individuals may try to disrupt the agitation and invite police action. Many artists in the protest conducted ‘art therapy’ programmes and games for children present at the site.
The children were asked what they would do if they were the Prime Minister of the country.
Sharmila Sawant, a teacher of Fine Arts, who was in Shaheen Bagh with her students, said: “Creative expression is was something to fall back on when times are really tough.”