About 20 km away from Shaheen Bagh, another group of women are raising their voice against the Citizenship Amendment Act. Women in East Delhi’s Khureji Khas are on an indefinite sit-in from Monday to oppose the amendment to the citizenship law and the proposed National Register of Citizens.
“Shaheen Bagh has become an inspiration for every woman who was a housewife, who felt her voice will not be heard. We are also sitting on an indefinite protest. Everybody is supporting our cause. On the first day itself the Sikh community celebrated Lohri with us, gave us blankets and supplied us with food,” says Ishrat Jahan, an advocate and organiser of the protest.
Hundreds of women have gathered to voice their dissent at the roadside, underneath tarpaulin sheets.
“We will boycott this law because it is against our Constitution. Leaving our elderly and children at home we are here because we can’t accept this law. It does get cold but when so many women are sitting, and old people participating, it gives us the courage to go on. When our children are on the streets, then why should we stay at home? We will also come out on the streets,” says Somi Usmani, one of the protestors.
The organisers say that the protest also aims at sensitising the community about the law.
“We felt there is a need to spread and awareness drive where we go door-to-door so that we can sensitise women about why we are protesting against CAA and NRC. When we went to their houses, the women said that they are housewives and asked for a peaceful protest so that they can join in, “says Ishrat Jahan.
From sloganeering to an informative puppet show, the protest site has plenty going on.
“We are here in the cold with our children, and police did lathicharge. We are just peacefully sitting. Where will we go? Tell us. Is there is any other way out? We will do this for our citizenship. India belongs to all of us. If somebody wants to snatch this from us, then let them come,” says another protester.
Protesters also alleged police excesses on women and children.
“I’ve been here from the first day when a 100 women were there. Now there are over 1500 people. We have the right to protest, we are just exercising our right. We are not doing anything illegal,” Sadaf Khan, a Delhi University student.
Like Shaheen Bagh, women are at the forefront of the protest with men working as volunteers.
“There are no traffic jams here. We are not creating any problem so that police and govt won’t complain. This protest belongs to the women. We are just supporting them and ensuring their safety,” says Shahabuddin who was volunteering and controlling traffic at the protest site.