Panic spread among the anti CAA-NPR-NRC protesters at East Delhi’s Khureji in the wee hours of January 14, after the police allegedly “switched off” the lights and vandalised the protest site. The protesters were local residents, mainly led by the women, who were inspired by the peaceful and organised protest at Shaheen Bagh and had gathered for an indefinite sit-in on Monday night.
At 2.30 AM on Wednesday morning, the lights at the protest site went out. This was followed by the police personnel allegedly swinging their lathis to uproot the pegs of the shed and tearing apart the tent, protesters told NewsClick.
“The police which first entered the protest site by telling us that they wanted to speak with the protesters, eventually destroyed our protest site,” said Sadaf Khan, one of the woman protesters. “The pegs were uprooted and our posters were burned. They were here to remove us,” she said.
However, that couldn’t be achieved because soon after the lights turned off, calls were given and messages over social media started circulating, recording the tension that surrounded the protesters. As a result, around 200 women, who stay near the protest venue, marched towards the site, forcing the police to make a retreat.
Also read: CAA-NRC: Shaheen Bagh-Inspired Protests Spread to Allahabad Via Kanpur
“Women from all lanes came out to save the protest site and show a solidarity with the protesters who were facing vandalism caused by the police,” said Bilal Saifi, a social worker, also among the protesters. “With this act, the police have actually strengthened our unity,” he added.
The protesters at Khureji are now determined to stay put as the crowd swelled by hundreds soon after the arrival of the police early in the morning.
Along with a sit in dharna by the women protesters, a long human chain was also formed by them on both sides of the road, with men holding placards and candles in their hand. Volunteers have been assigned to ensure smooth movement of the traffic.
“We didn’t expect this turnout by the local residents and that is why a human chain along the road was formed, with men silently holding posters that carries messages celebrating India’s secularism,” another protester Mohammad Yassir told NewsClick.
At around 7 PM on Tuesday, too, police made an attempt to disperse the protesting men, “not allowing” them to form a human chain allegedly over fears of a clash with a bike rally of RSS.
“A public meeting was organised by Shreshth Bharat Parishad nearby in the evening. The police had asked us to call off our protest fearing a clash with them,” Sadaf told NewsClick. The police, however, denied saying anything as such to the protesters.
The protest in East Delhi’s Khureji is the latest one to be inspired by the protesting women of Shaheen Bagh. Similar indefinite protests have been staged in Kolkata and Bihar’s Gaya.