Delhi

Women evicted from rented flat for protesting CAA, NRC

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‘We feared for our lives and safety as the mob forced its way up the stairs and threatened to break down the door’

Surya Rajappan, 27, is a lawyer with the Delhi High Court. Her parents live in Delhi but she was staying with a friend in a rented flat in Lajpat Nagar. On January 5, the two women were threatened and abused by a 150-strong mob and evicted from the flat for peacefully protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the National Register of Citizens during Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s rally in the area. Excerpts from Ms. Rajappan’s Facebook post on the incident:

The Central government, after weeks of ignoring the peaceful protests against the CAA, announced that it would be launching a campaign in support of the Act. On January 5, Union Home Minister Amit Shah embarked on a pro-CAA rally with a door-to-door campaign in Lajpat Nagar in the heart of south Delhi.

We are — or rather, were — residents of the same locality. When we became aware of the pro-CAA rally led by Mr. Shah, we exercised our constitutional and democratic right to peacefully protest against the same.

To register our peaceful protest against the CAA and the NRC, my flatmate and I displayed a home-made, hand-crafted banner from our apartment balcony, just as the rally led by Mr. Shah was passing through our lane. The banner contained the slogans — Shame (in large capital letters), CAA (crossed out), NRC (crossed out), Jai Hind, Azaadi and #NotInMyName. I also raised certain slogans verbally to express my disapproval of the CAA and the NRC, such as “we reject CAA”, “we reject NRC”.

Upon noticing our protest, the members of the rally started getting agitated, and proceeded to verbally harass and intimidate us by shouting out threats and derogatory/misogynistic remarks. A mob of around 150 people collected on the street below our apartment. They were evidently enraged and threatened by the simple act of two girls protesting peacefully. The protest banner that we had hung from our balcony was torn and taken away. A group broke apart from the mob and forced its way up the stairs and threatened to break down the door if we did not let them in. We feared for our lives and safety and locked ourselves into our home, while they kept violently banging at our door and shouting until the police intervened.

The common entrance which led to the stairway of our house was locked and bolted by our landlord (who was a part of the angry mob) and we were trapped in the house. Terrified, we called our friends to come help us. When they arrived at the scene, the angry mob pushed them around and refused to let them enter the house. For three-four hours, we were trapped inside the house with an angry mob outside. In the meanwhile, our landlord (who was visibly livid) informed us that we had been evicted from our residence.

After a long period of time and multiple interventions by the police and our friends, my father was allowed to enter the premises along with a police officer. The police recorded our complaint against the criminal behaviour of the unruly mob. After seven hours, the door of the stairway was finally unlocked and we were allowed to leave the premises under police protection.

Over the course of the last 48 hours, we have feared for our lives and safety; our character and upbringing have also been questioned. We have also been accused of craving media attention – only for exercising our constitutional right to dissent peacefully.

As a part of the legal system, I beseech the judiciary to take stock of the unprecedented situation that India is facing, and to safeguard the constitutional rights of citizens. The intent of our founding fathers while drafting the Constitution was to protect the liberty of individuals against the abuse of power by the state. The Supreme Court has played an important role over the years to protect the Constitution and must continue to do so, now more than ever.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2020 1:07:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/women-evicted-from-rented-flat-for-protesting-caa-nrc/article30518319.ece

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