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Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Rickety stage, faulty mic but Chandrashekhar Azad’s loud and clear at Shaheen Bagh

At first, the mic didn’t work. But when it did, Chandrashekhar Azad’s first words were ‘Jai Bhim’, followed by: “If the mic stops working midway, I’ll come back to Shaheen Bagh.”

Written by Somya Lakhani | New Delhi | Updated: January 23, 2020 8:00:31 am
Chandrashekhar Azad at Shaheen Bagh, Shaheen Bagh protests, Azad at Shaheen Bagh, Shaheen Bagh, Chandrashekhar Azad, CAA protests, Shaheen Bagh protests, CAA protests Delhi, CAA, Citizenship Amendment Act, Indian Express Chandrashekhar Azad at Shaheen Bagh Wednesday. (Express photo by Gajendra Yadav)

Constitution in hand, Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad arrived in Shaheen Bagh after visiting Jamia Millia Islamia Wednesday to chants of ‘Jai Bhim’ and ‘sher aaya sher’ — a day after a Delhi court modified his bail conditions. “In history, we heard about Jallianwala Bagh; now the whole world knows Shaheen Bagh… This is how a non-political movement can change things, it’s historic,” said Azad, congratulating women about entering day 37 of the protest against CAA, NRC and NPR.

A stampede-like situation arose as Azad climbed on the makeshift stage around 8 pm, its rickety legs wobbling and some supporters tumbling off. At first, the mic didn’t work. But when it did, Azad’s first words were ‘Jai Bhim’, followed by: “If the mic stops working midway, I’ll come back to Shaheen Bagh.”

He was joined on stage by his advocate Mehmood Pracha, and in the backdrop were photos of B R Ambedkar. “When I was in Tihar Jail recently, I knew what the temperature was. Delhi had broken its own 112-year record. Par aapke hausle ke saamne toh woh record kuch nahi tha. I took two blankets and wondered how you were… There are a 1,000 Shaheen Baghs because of you. We need one lakh so that this deaf and mute government pays heed.”

On December 20, he had reached Jama Masjid where he read out the Preamble to the Constitution. He was arrested the following day. Granting him bail on January 15, Additional Sessions Judge Kamini Lau had restrained him from visiting Delhi for four weeks in light of the Assembly elections. The conditions were modified Tuesday.

Lau had also said he should not disrespect the PM. “I have been told to respect the PM by the court. Maine bhi socha ki karna chahiye, par phir socha ki kyun? Jaise unke kaarname hain toh nahi karni chahiye... I will respect him because the Constitution says so, but tell the PM to listen to the people and respect them too. If he won’t, why should we?” he said.

Addressing the women, he said: “Babasaheb also drafted the Hindu Code Bill, which said women should get equal rights… He said there should be a time when women lead the country. That time is here.”

He also asked why the PM “talks to the whole world through Mann ki Baat, but won’t listen to the mann ki baat of the sisters of Shaheen Bagh”. He questioned demonetisation, and called CAA “anti-Constitution” and “a black law” which “won’t be implemented as long as Bhim Army and Azad are alive”.

Before ending with a stanza from ‘Sarfaroshi ki tamanna’, he told protesters: “You have the right to protest, a peaceful protest. The Constitution is your suraksha kavach. Ek taraf poori hukumut, puri taakat aur ek taraf yeh Constitution.”

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