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There’s fear, grief and dejection after Delhi riots but Shaheen Bagh resolves to protest on

For Shaheen Bagh protesters, Delhi riots are a foreboding reality check but they have a message for BJP's Kapil Mishra — we won't allow Shaheen Bagh to turn into Jaffrabad.

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New Delhi: For the protesters at Shaheen Bagh, the possibility of being killed for their cause has become all too real as Delhi struggles to cope with the communal violence in its northeastern region.

By Wednesday, the fourth day since riots broke out following clashes between pro- and anti-Citizenship Act (CAA) protests in the Jaffrabad-Maujpur area, 24 people had been killed and scores injured.

At Shaheen Bagh, which has come to symbolise the anti-CAA and NRC protests across the country, the mood is of anger and helplessness. Their once-loved “dilwalon ki Dilli” has become “jhannum (hell),” protesters say.

With their faith in the government, police, judiciary and media completely eroded, Allah is their only ally in the fight for azaadi (freedom), they say.

Also read: The Delhi pogrom 2020 is Amit Shah’s answer to an election defeat

‘Don’t know if I’ll come back from Shaheen Bagh’

For the past two months, the women of Shaheen Bagh — the leaders of the protest — have spent almost every waking minute sitting under a tent, demanding the rollback of the amended citizenship law. Between the harsh winter cold and attempts to have the protest moved, they’ve faced plenty.

However, the fear of dying for their cause became a present danger after mobs, armed with stones, guns, sickles and daggers, ran amok across Northeast Delhi. The motive of the violence has been clear — to ensure no other Shaheen Bagh emerges.

Women at the Shaheen Bagh protest site that has seen a 24x7 protest go on since mid-December 2019 | Sanya Dhingra | ThePrint
Women at the Shaheen Bagh protest site that has seen a 24×7 protest go on since mid-December 2019 | Sanya Dhingra | ThePrint

“I leave my children at home every day to come here. But in the last few days, I feel that I don’t know if I will come back,” said Mona Ahmed, one of the women at the protest.

“I keep telling my family and my sisters here, if I die, don’t take my body home — I want to go to the graveyard straight from the protest site here.”

Ahmed’s sentiment is shared by others, including a woman in her 80s, who refused to identify herself. “Only those who have lost their children can understand the pain of a grieving parent,” she said, close to tears.

Also read: Who represents India’s Muslims? Thanks to CAA protests, we now know the answer

New sense of urgency

Visuals of police and journalists from the violence-affected areas dominated the news for several days, even when US President Donald Trump was in India on his first visit. On social media, the images are more jarring — unarmed men being dragged, beaten and harassed while police fail to protect them.

For those at Shaheen Bagh, the impact of these visuals is deeper — they know it could be their families next. This has lent their fight an urgency, even panic.

“Even two-year-olds are talking about azaadi now. This never happened in our families before,” said the woman in her 80s.

The resolve, and resignation, of Ahmed and the old woman is palpable among the other protesters. There is a sense that the Indian Muslim here has lost allies — the government, the police, the judiciary and the media — in their struggle for equality.

“We only have our Allah. Let them pelt as many stones at us, we will not retaliate,” said 32-year-old Fatima Khatun, who was holding a polythene bag containing a bottle of water, fruits and a copy of the Quran. “But when the almighty pelts his stone, no amount of violence and demonisation against us will work.”

Also readKejriwal and Amanatullah ‘nowhere to be seen’, Shaheen Bagh protesters feel marginalised

Stuck between suspicion & panic

Shaheen Bagh, being the epicentre of the anti-CAA protests, has seen people from across Delhi show up in solidarity. But the communal riots has now made them increasingly suspicious of new faces.

Concerted attempts to brand them as radical Islamists and terrorists have made them reluctant to talk to reporters.

“Modiji kehte hain kapdon se pehchan lo, toh aap bhi kapdon se pehchan lijiye (Modiji said you can recognise us by our clothes, so you can just do that),” said one woman who refused to identify herself and was unwilling to talk to a journalist.

Other women who spoke to ThePrint also repeatedly asked which organisation this reporter worked for, what the report would say and how it would portray the protests. The protesters now have a list of media houses they speak to, and those they will not entertain.

People sit near a model of India at the Shaheen Bagh protest site | Sanya Dhingra | ThePrint
People sit near a model of India at the Shaheen Bagh protest site | Sanya Dhingra | ThePrint

In the background, one can hear a message every few minutes on the loudspeaker asking people to maintain calm no matter what happens.

“Madam, humein bohot badnaam kiya gaya hai. Ab humein Allah ko chhod ke kissi pe trust nahi hai (Madam, we have been defamed a lot. Now, we only trust Allah),” said the woman quoted above. “Yeh sarkar, police aur media ab qaatil bann chuke hain. (The government, police and media have become murderers),” she said.

Former Delhi MLA Kapil Mishra, who is widely being seen as the main instigator of the latest riots, on Tuesday tweeted that what he said about not allowing Jaffrabad turning into another Shaheen Bagh has been achieved.

Following the clashes, the Delhi Police cleared out protesters at Jaffrabad by Tuesday night.

From the fear and grief though, has risen a more resilient sense of purpose.

“Kapil Mishra ne kaha tha Jaffrabad ko Shaheen Bagh nahi banne denge. Hum unhe kehte hain ki hum Shaheen Bagh ko Jaffrabad nahi banne denge (Kapil Mishra said he would not allow Jaffrabad to turn into Shaheen Bagh. We say we will not allow Shaheen Bagh to turn into Jaffrabad),” said Khatun.

“Let them bring their police, their goons, their truckloads of stones — we are not going anywhere till CAA and NRC are rolled back.”

Also read: Delhi riots neither designed by Modi govt, nor Islamic conspiracy. It’s far more dangerous


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  1. It’s natural for the uneducated Muslim community to be instigated for freedom, rights bla bla. What about the minority rights of Hindus in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh? Include same in your protests…. Lambast the barbaric Pakistan government or the fanatic, fundamentalists Islamic terrorist of those countries……. We shall surely support your cause

  2. Govt. should vacate place of Shahin Baug by force, should not neglect so long. Otherwise people will see that people can do as they want.

    This is one example of what people do against law, Govt. just neglect & let it go. Examples of this are many like below –
    1) Triple seat riding on 2 wheelers,
    2) Shop keepers encroaching on foot paths in every city / all states
    3) Building unauthorized buildings & then regularising it is continued
    4) 40% or more societies are not having their sale deed in the name of societies / residents
    What is this hell going on ?

  3. I seen a lot of hindutva bhakts here… We hindu people have no hatred towards other religions…hinduism and hindutva were totally different…We hindus not authorized rss or its goons for our religion ..they are maligned our religion and our god for their political gain…we voted them for development not for chanting India pakistan or hindu muslim in a daily basis…We reject these paid media houses delayed justice and sided cops…Why these JSR chanting goons insulted my god and religion for their killing and looting…they should be hanged for disrespects my god..

    • yes yes and iSIS, Taliban, etc. enhanced image of peaceful protest. No no u never voted for development, because development is ‘haraam’ in islam. Do not hide behind the name of a hindu, we know u r a ghaddar. U did not hold Indian National flag when u were shouting “Bharat Tere Tukde Honge Inshallah Inshallah”. Why u r holding national flag. In kashmir most of kashmiris were not flying national flag, Y u r flying it now?

  4. Even two year olds are talking “Azadi” now. Wow! What a revelation!! As though we didn’t know that “Azadi” was always on your mind ever since some of your brethren got Pakistan in 1947. It is people like you who should have been sent to Pakistan at that time. You people who have “Azadi” on their mind create a bad name for the well meaning Muslims of this country who want to coexist with others, who chose India in 1947 just because they loved the idea of India, the ethos of India, the culture of India, and not because they wanted to push the agenda of Gazwa-e-Hind someday in future. You make these well meaning innocent Muslims scapegoats. You make them vulnerable. Shame on you. If you are so much in need of “Azadi”, then simply march off to the nation that was given to you people way back in 1947. You were given the option of that “Azadi” back then. If what you have now is “Gulami” then you should have thought about it back then. You cannot first demand a separate nation, then choose not to go the new nation created for you and then again demand “Azadi” 70 years later. You are wanting to have the cake and eat it too!

  5. For weeks, these ladies have been harassing the aam aadmi by blocking roads – forcing them to waste hours in the traffic jams caused by the blockage.
    What was most shocking was the utter contempt which they dealt with the Supreme Court request to move their protest to a location which does not cause innocent bystanders to suffer.
    It is hence sad that even after 42 people died due to their pigheadness, they have show no remorse – Kejriwal may forgive them – but Allah wont.

  6. I am sorry to say, why Muslims are at friction every where around the world. Be it USA, be it UK, be it Sweden, be it Germany.

    The countries they are in majority are burning. Except few that have too much black gold and monarchy.
    There is no successful democracy in Muslim nations.
    The countries where Muslims are in majority give no religious freedom to others yet they bicker in countries which provide religious freedom
    They want freedom when in minority and sharia as soon as they become majority.
    See YouTube videos of vice and many others..
    Place like London, Birmingham and Germany have many no go areas for non-muslims..
    The mosques in London preach to hate non Muslims..

    They mourn for Muslims of other countries, but displace their own countrymen.. Remember what they did to kashmiri Pandits..
    We will never forget..
    I was in jammu that time, I saw Pandits crying..
    What was their fault then.
    Muslim league broke pieces out of India in name of religion. Both Pakistan and Bangladesh today are intolarant..
    India is the only tolatant nation left out of pre- partition India..
    That too because of Hindus, who accepted not only Muslims, but parsis Jews and possibly every religion of world..
    But Muslims have problem with every other religion of world..
    The question is why?

    Give respect take respect..
    If you consider India your nation respect supreme Court..
    Your fundamental rights are completely intact
    If Hindus are targeted in Pakistan it’s not their fault.
    We gave them a country with Muslim majority.
    If this how Muslim Pakistan treat their countrymen when in majority, afganistan persecuted sikhs.. What was their fault..

    Terrorism is not only muslim, but majority of terrorist we know are Muslims, and they do it in name of Islam..
    Why don’t we make our judgements based on facts..

    What happened in Delhi was really sad.
    No amount of grief and bring back the loved ones died our condolences with them..

    But there was no need of road blokadges, go to ramleela maidan go to jantarmantar.. Do dharna wait for supreme Court order..
    Why create problems for others


    CAA is unconstitutional as it is discriminatory against JIHADI muslims


    Muslim quota is constitutional which give RELIGION BASED reservation

    Muslims CANT tolerate space for non muslims BUT want EXCLUSIVE BENEFITS FOR THEMSELVES EVERYWHERE.

    Root cause of unrest is this Tauheen Bagh. Just in apprehension losing citizenship can make them such stubborn that they shamelessly sit here for months for something that does exist as of now moreover when matter is subjudice….Then why can’t hindus in anticipation be alarmed of their intentions of waging jihad against India.

  8. CAA is subjudice. Let Supreme Court deliver it’d constitutionality. If it found constitutional, all is well. If it declare it ultra vires, it will be struck down. Again no problem. Then why Shaheen Bag. Only to humiliate Supreme Court, Parliament & people of India, their mandate given to BJP in May 2019.

  9. shame on reporter for biased reporting with agenda of ISI to redivide India. how much money you earn as salary for propaganda reporting !!.

  10. The last line explains it all. “NRC should be rolled back”. NRC isn’t even in its draft form. Yet these idiots are protesting against it. The sole contributer of these riots are shameless media houses like you. You have BLOOD in your hands. Had you been reporting what CAA actually is instead of reporting the interpretation of anti CAA protestors. These protests wouldn’t have held in the first place

  11. What kind of reporting is this? The reporter seems married to anti CAA cause and is blind to problems of the common commuters. Look at a few muslim idiots sitting on a charpoy with the map of India in background and blocking the middle of the road.
    We need to get this guys shifted to the riverside, where they can sit for ever.

  12. This newspapers is against the BJP Government for reasons better known to their MD only, nothing can be expected more from this hypocrites.

    • Muslims have been given a country of their own in 1947, which has now become two countries. So they have a place to go. But non-Muslims in those two countries have no place to go. So why should we include Muslims from those two countries into India now? They went there out of their own volition in 1947. They got their nation at the point of the gun. They threatened riots and civil war if they were not given a country of their own. So why should we include them in our country now? Can you please explain this simple question?

      Now don’t tell me about the Shias and Ahmedias who are apparently being persecuted in Pakistan. Remember that they were the two groups who were at the forefront of the Pakistan agitation in pre-Independence India. They were the ones who forced the partition. Now having got their Pakistan, they now realize that it has become Na-Pak. Why should we care for them?

      You are essentially talking from the viewpoint of the Ummah! So you want us to take in those who were traitors to the nation in 1947 also because they belong to your Ummah! Utter nonsense!!

  13. Some strong action should be taken to atop these stupid female pigs
    These people are stubborn and want delhi like another kashmir

  14. Print is leaning towards mosques.Unbiased reporting is seen nowhere these days.Human rights never talk about the victims who suffered brutally in the hands of the abuser/ criminal.
    Similarly, shaheen protesters are basically abusive public path way disturbing our daytoday life.Why Aap is not taking any action?We have to live in a place where we are respected rather than tolerated.We tolerated them so much and this should come to an end.
    Also, this riot has set an example for western countries.Better they learn a lesson now or else, the consequences will be severe.They should stop criticising India.India is a Hindu country with only converts!

  15. It is high time police must throw a jet of water and disturb the adamant protesters, who are not aware of what the caa is standing for. Police must investigate the leaders who are insinuating and disturbing vthe harmony of delhi.

  16. Print editor I have lived my 40 years with Muslims like Doval, don’t sit and become arm chair journalists. Don’t be biased and become jaichand

  17. If instead of reporting the ill-informed views of the protesters, had these journalists shared the actual facts, the protests would have ended long back. But why let facts come in the matter of ego? Let’s keep blaming government, police, judiciary, administration, media, etc. If you do no trust anyone, why should anyone trust you? Police was killed, IB was killed, people were burnt for having Hindu god name on their vehicles, people were literally drilled on their heads, bodies are found in drains. And yet they had the gall to say that government is to blame. It is this hypocrisy which is increasing the mistrust.

    • The things which you mentioned are realy should have not happened to anyone no matter what religion he / she belonged to but that doesnt mean we take revenge by doing the same to others. You tell me is it okay to do the same with others? Is it okay to give anwswers in a voilent way?” ईट का जवाब पत्थर से ” is just a kahawat we cannot use this in real life. No matter what religion they belong to if a hindu has done wrong to muslim then the muslim person cannot use voilent ways to defend himself in the sameway if a mulim has done anything wrong with a hindu then hindu cannot defend himself in voilent way….voilence is not an answer .

  18. That is the whole problem. Even two years olds are talking about azaadi. These people are using children for their agenda. And this columnist is shamelessly publicising it

  19. Newton’s third law is in operation: Action and reaction are equal and opposite. Stop squatting in the public place. Get out. That’s the remedy.

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