The Kalindi Kunj Road, a busy thoroughfare connecting Delhi and Noida, has been closed for a week now. Reason? To contain the thousands of protesters, mainly from Jamia Nagar area, who have been coming out to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
While demonstrations elsewhere in Delhi have been mobilised largely by political and civil society groups, the ongoing protest by the residents of Jamia Nagar, including housewives and children in large numbers, has emerged organically.
Shabbo Rani, a housewife from Shaheen Bagh neighbourhood, has been attending the protest since last Saturday. And every day, she’s joined by her husband and two children. “What’s happening is terribly wrong, how the police brutally attacked students at Jamia Millia on Sunday,” she explained her motivation. “My husband is not going to work, nor are my kids going to school. We are sleeping out here on the street. Our entire focus is on rolling back the Citizenship Amendment Act.”
She added, “Students are the future of the country. If they have boycotted their studies and come out for a cause, the government should at least try to understand their concerns.”
Abdul Samad, 70, who lives in Jamia Nagar, is another regular at Kalindi Kunj protest. “How can I rest at home while my country is going to ruin?” he asked, by way of an explanation. “I am a nationalist. I will give my blood, my money, my life for the nation.”
In view of the daily protests, the Noida Traffic police on Thursday requested people to use alternative routes such as the DND Road to travel between Delhi and Noida. “Due to the protest demonstration at Jamia Millia Islamia on December 15 and in pursuance of directions from the Delhi Police, the diversion on the Kalindi Kunj route will continue on December 20,” the police tweeted. “People are advised to take alternative routes of DND and Chilla for travelling to Delhi.” The road, however, is still closed.
Nabab Ahmad, 30, a daily wage worker from Shaheen Bagh who too hasn’t missed a day of protest, said, “CAA is discriminatory. What they are trying to impose upon the nation is sad and we all must resist it. I have incurred great losses because I have not been able to go to work. But it doesn’t matter because our constitution is at risk.”
Another woman, about 65 years of age, joins the protest every day with her grandson and granddaughter. “Every day, close to 5,000 people gather around this area to protest against CAA,” she said. “This is the first protest I have also joined. But this time I had to come out because I felt like my community was being attacked.” Her son, a rickshaw puller too, has stopped going to work to join the protest.
Kalindi Kunj area is usually a busy area, populated as it is with a number of factory outlets of several big brands. All these establishments have been shut since the protest started.
A policeman deployed in the area said, “We will not use force to disperse them because we have been defamed by the public and are being called brutal. At Jamia Millia, the police did nothing but save the people and public property at risk. We will try and just request people to move to Ramlila Ground to protest and not cause inconvenience to the traffic here.”
All photographs by Ismat Ara.