Shaheen Bagh – Will it prove to be a precursor to another partition of India ?

Mr. Shirish Deshmukh

Shaheen Bagh, hitherto unknown to many outside Delhi, has seen an ongoing 24/7 sit-in protest, led by women.

The protest began with the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act in both houses of Parliament on 11th December 2019 and the ensuing Police intervention against students at Jamia Millia Islamia who were opposing the Amendment.

The protesters, mainly Muslim women, have blocked a major highway in New Delhi since 15th December 2019 using non-violent resistance for so many days. It has now become the longest continuous protest against CAA-NRC-NPR.


Shaheen Bagh is a neighbourhood in the South Delhi. It is the southernmost colony of the Okhla (Jamia Nagar) area, situated along the banks of Yamuna River. This area has good connectivity to nearby commercial and official areas such as Noida, Nehru Place, Sarita Vihar, Jasola, Okhla Industrial Area, and Okhla Railway Station. It also has good connectivity and short distances to universities like Jamia Millia Islamia and Jamia Hamdard. A Metro railway station connects Shaheen Bagh to the Delhi Metro network. Buses for major routes start from the nearby Kalindi Kunj.

Shaheen Bagh protest

The leaderless protest now is not only against CAA and Police brutality but also against the National Register of Citizens (NRC), National Population Register (NPR) and the BJP Government in general. The protesters have also supported unions opposing the Government’s ‘anti-labour policies’ and have protested against recent happenings such as the 2020 JNU attack.

As can be seen from the various photographs of protesters appearing in media, almost all the protesters are Muslim women despite their claim that the agitation is all-inclusive. The agitation appears to be directly and indirectly supported logistically and financially by different quarters. These include opposition parties, fanatic Islamic groups such as Popular Front of India, leftists and anti-nationals supported by neighbouring enemy countries.

Efforts to remove the blockade

Protests against the Shaheen Bagh blockade have also been held with many locals wanting the roads to reopen. The blocked road affects more than 1,00,000 vehicles a day, leading to completing a 25-minute journey in 2-3 hours. This border point also receives 1,800 trucks everyday which are now being diverted to other border points. The Delhi High Court has refused a plea on shifting the protesters from Shaheen Bagh; a Bench of the Court was presided by Chief Justice DN Patel.

The Delhi Police have said they will look into the restrictions that have been caused because of the protesters that affect lakhs of commuters every day, including senior citizens, school children and office goers. A plea has also been filed in the Supreme Court of India requesting supervision of the matter to prevent any violence.

Brainwashing of children

Since the first day, children have been present along with their parents who participate in the protest. Everyday, the children go to school in the morning and after returning they join their parents at the site. On 21st January 2020, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the top children rights body of India, has asked authorities to provide counselling for children present at the protests. A complaint was received saying that the children have been misinformed by their parents about the Amendment and detention centres. Children at the site listen to speeches on how issues from CAA, NRC to Ayodhya to triple talaq had been discriminatory. Some of these children have been seen in viral videos of the protests shouting slogans.

This is a very dangerous trend to make children anti-nationals instead of patriotic. Already, education in innumerable madarasas operating in the country is in question. The objective of any Government to bring minorities in the main national stream appears to get defeated by such programmes. Though the opposition parties, which go to any extent to get votes of Muslims at any cost, are short-sighted on this point, they have given a blank cheque to anti-nationals to open up the doors for the next partition of India.

Paid protest ?

As the protest entered January 2020, the BJP claimed of protesters being paid to protest. A doctored poster mentioning Amit Malviya, BJP leader and head of IT cell, tweeted a video where claims were made that the women protesters were paid Rs. 500 to 700 to sit-in. Soon Twitter users refuted the claims and also said they are visiting and joining the protest at their own expense. The official twitter handle of Shaheen Bagh protest released a statement and quashed the claim as false.

Sharjeel Imam factor

On this background, a provocative speech by Sharjeel Imam in Aligarh Muslim University, raises serious doubts whether a conspiracy has been hatched to break the Nation. Imam is a graduate in computer science from IIT-Mumbai. He shifted to Delhi to pursue research at the Centre for Historical Studies at the JNU, where he had studied earlier. He was slapped with a sedition case after his alleged speeches went viral on social media where he was heard speaking about ‘cutting off’ Assam and the North-East from India.