Ground Zero: Shaheen Bagh/ Part II

The following is an interview of an individual. MTTN neither supports nor condones the views expressed and is simply conveying the information collected. 

Shaheen Bagh is synonymous with two words– resistance and resilience. What began as a small gathering of women to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act has now grown into a movement destined to be a part of history.

Through the next three interviews, MTTN brings to its readers an insight into the heart of Shaheen Bagh– its people. Protesting since the 14th of December 2019, they have stood their ground, come what may, for a cause they believe in. 

Khurshid is one among the many who have to balance their work-life with their time at Shaheen Bagh. Running a coaching centre till 8 pm, Khurshid spends his remaining time protesting and helping out. Read on to know more about their friendly rapport with the police, the need for protest and the sacrifices being made for the same.

1. How did the protest initially start?

Ans. The protests started on the 15th of December during the morning hours. And by evening, the news of lathi charge inside the Jamia campus came out that infuriated many. People from here went to join the Jamia students outside their campus but a few decided to stay back and not leave Shaheen Bagh. We were very furious- the police entered the campus and beat them. They did not spare the library. Every one was beaten up, even the ones who were quietly studying and going about their business. The police had no permission to enter the campus but this still took place.

In the beginning, this protest was to condemn violence but slowly it took the shape of being a protest against CAA/NRC which we realized was very important to do.

2. What are the sacrifices that have been made by for sitting long hours? 

Ans. Most people have lost their jobs. Companies have fired them for they had been missing work for almost a month because of the protest. Kids don’t go to school because the women have devoted their entire 24 hours in protests. Even I have been here, every day, for the past months for at least 16-18 hours a day.

3. What are the changes you saw ever since the first day of the protest? 

Ans. Through the news we have watched and heard, I am aware that the government has come under pressure. This has ignited protests almost all around India- -in sixteen different places. This has caused the government to come under pressure. The court is also working in our favour.

4. What has been the treatment of the Police so far?

Ans. The Police is not putting us under pressure. They are in fact helping us. They don’t have a problem with us as the protest at Shaheen Bagh is peaceful-. We, too, send them snacks, tea–whatever food that can be provided to them is sent. They don’t want this to turn into a political platform.

5. How has the food and sleeping arrangements been so far?

Ans. The local people living around are taking responsibility for the food and shelter arrangements. From blankets and mattresses to medicines and food– everything has been arranged by the locals here.

6. Is there a committee or an organization which helps in organzing this protest in a well-mannered way?

Ans. There is no committee or organization involved in this. We fund on our own.

7. How has the media coverage been of this place?

Ans. Media coverage has been good. Rumours do get spread but media coverage has been good. Now, even international media is covering our story.

8. Do you think the protests will make a difference?

Of course, it will make a difference.  If it didn’t make a difference, the government would have stopped us ages ago– right when we started, in the first few days itself. They are under great pressure. They are confused about how to go about controlling this. That is why the High Court has been involved. It has reached the Supreme court as well.  This will make a difference. We all are determined. It has to make a difference.

9. How long do you think the protests will go on?

Ans. This protest will go on until the government decides to change or take back this law.
And with God’s grace, this protest will take all over India. It has also spread to top universities like MIT in the US and Cambridge in the UK.

10. The main road has been blocked to protest. What problems has this caused?

Ans. Everyone is facing inconvenience because of this. However, we have only blocked the street, and not stopped it. Cars can still go by.  Why did we do this? The Government doesn’t want these problems but in order to protest, we need to this. This is a necessity. The Government will, however, use this as an election platform and will try to show the people, “Look what the Muslims have done! They have blocked the roads.” They are going to play their religion card in this.

11. The shops on the side of the road must have faced a slow down in business. How are they dealing with this? 

Ans. In the start, they were willing to support us. Later they have incited not to and because of this a few shopkeepers are now against the idea of Shaheen Bagh protest. They are not very open about this. Since this is a place that is usually very crowded during the weekends, there are big showrooms and outlets around. They have definitely faced a slow down in business.

Interviewed and images by Farah Khan, Somiha Chatterjee and Kashika Rathor for MTTN

Edited by Aarohi Sarma for MTTN

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