NEW DELHI: The three elderly women, who are now popularly known as the “dadis of Shaheen Bagh” for leading the anti-CAA agitation along with the mother of Rohith Vemula, hoisted the tricolour at the Shaheen Bagh protest venue on Sunday to mark the country’s 71st Republic Day.
Radhika Vemula, Rohith’s mother, who was accompanied by the “dadis”, former JNU student leader Umar Khalid and Gujrat MLA Jignesh Mevani unfurled the national flag. They sang the national anthem along with thousands of people, including women and children who had gathered at Shaheen Bagh to celebrate the occasion.
The protestors who are opposing the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) and a proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC), has been protesting for the past 43 days at Shaheen Bagh. The protesters said they will continue their agitation until the government decides to rollback the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens.
From children to women, many held the national flag and sang patriotic songs to celebrate the spirit of oneness, equality and secularism. They chanted the “CAA se Azaadi, NRC se Azaadi, BJP se Azaadi (freedom from CAA, NRC and BJP)” while raising other slogans against the CAA and the NRC.
“We do not want a Prime Minister who cannot listen to our grievance and address our concerns. Why has the prime minister or any of his representatives addressed us yet? Why didn’t he visit us and explain the CAA and NRC?,” asked 75-year-old Sarwari, one of the “Dadis”, who has been part of the protest for over a month now.
The 82-year-old Bilkis said: “This is our nation and our forefathers have contributed in the freedom struggle of this country. Today, if we fail to protect the Constitution and the secular fabric of this country, we will fail to save the future of our nation,” she said.
Recalling violence at the Jamia Millia Islamia and the Jawaharlal Nehru University, she asked if this was how the government was promoting the “beti bachao beti padhao” concept? “Are our students even safe on their campuses? Was it right to barge inside the campus and assault students in this manner? Is this ‘beti bachao beti padhao?’,” she asked.
The 90-year-old Asma Khatoon was also present at the flag hoisting ceremony.