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Sunday, March 29, 2020

Shaheen Bagh women deny claims that anti-CAA protest has wrapped up

This came after a student coordinator at the protest site put up a post on social media claiming that the road blockade has been “called off”.

Written by Sukrita Baruah | New Delhi | Updated: January 3, 2020 7:04:00 am
Women continue with their sit-in, Thursday. Tashi Tobgyal

Women residents of Shaheen Bagh continued with their sit-in on Kalindi Kunj road through Thursday afternoon and evening, and emphatically stated that they would go on with their protest despite “rumours”.

This came after a student coordinator at the protest site put up a post on social media claiming that the road blockade has been “called off”.

Sharjeel Imam, a PhD scholar at Jawaharlal Nehru University and one of those involved in management of the protest site, put up a social media post on Thursday afternoon, stating, “We have called off the Shaheen Bagh road blockade today to avoid the impending violence from party goons and to avoid politicisation of the stage by parties. Police was asked by HM (Home Minister) not to intervene, because BJP intends to intervene themselves. If that happens, our peaceful protest will be tarnished, and it will break the morale of the people.”

However, women protesters continued to sit at the protest site even on Thursday evening.

“Why will we move? Let any inspector or SP come, let them use lathis or guns, we will not move till we get justice. Some people had come to the stage this morning and said we should move but we chased them away,” said Ronak Jehan (55), sitting with her grand daughter.

Shabnam Shafi (38) also emphasised that the women of the locality, who have been at the centre of the protest, had not made a decision to move: “The information that the protest is stopping is wrong, these are rumours being spread by outsiders.”

Aasif Mujtaba, a PhD scholar at IIT-Delhi, is another of the lead coordinators who have withdrawn from the protest. “The ‘we’ in question is around 20-30 of us from universities like IIT, JNU, Jamia and AMU who have been managing the protest. The road blockade is separate from protesting against the CAA. We want to now work on sensitisation on the Act across Delhi. The road blockade has been peaceful all this while and we want to end it peacefully. We think that the situation might soon get violent. Also, our protest has been apolitical but since Delhi elections are coming up, we fear it might be used by parties,” he said.

However, he conceded that the decision was made by “individuals”. “We have said this as individuals but this movement was not organised by individuals. It is a people’s movement and those agitating might want to continue,” he said.

Sharjeel Imam told The Indian Express that they anticipated violence at the site on Friday. “Those of us doing most of the work have withdrawn; the blockade will die its own death tonight,” he claimed.

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