The women taking part in the non-stop vigil at Park Circus Maidan against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens have vowed not to budge from the ground till the act is revoked.
The Supreme Court, where many petitions against the CAA have been filed, said on Wednesday it would not stay the operation of the act without hearing out the Centre. The Centre has been given four weeks to state its stand on the petitions.
“Chaar haftey. Chaar mahiney. Chaar saal. Jitne din baithna para baithenge hum isi maidan par, jab tak sarkar yeh kaala kanoon hatati nehin hai. Hum yahin rahenge tab tak. (Four weeks. Four months. Four years. We will sit here, on this ground, till the government revokes this black act. Our vigil will continue),” said Asmat Jamil, who has been part of the vigil since it started on January 7.
The woman in her 60s, who suffers from nephritis and has had a kidney transplant, said her comrades had decided not to move from Park Circus Maidan and let the demonstration lose its steam.
On Wednesday, an air of anticipation was hanging over the ground with women scanning news on their smartphones to keep track of the proceedings at the Supreme Court.
They also held a series of meetings to decide their course of action. The decision to stay put till the act is revoked was unanimous.
“Kya hum peechhey hatein? Waapas ghar chaley jaayein? (Do we step back. Do we go back home?)” a woman in her late 20s asked on the microphone.
The answer was a resounding “Nahin (No).”
The sit-in started with a dozen women. Now, more than 50 spend their nights at Park Circus Maidan. Throughout the day hundreds, or even thousands, troop in to lend their support to the movement.
All the women The Telegraph spoke to on the ground on Wednesday said they would continue with the protest till they reached their goal.
Shaheen Hussain, 49, a mother of three, said they could not leave the movement and go home at this stage, though spending the nights on the ground was becoming increasingly difficult.
“The nights are difficult because of the cold. It gets quite chilly when a breeze starts but we cannot go back to the comfort of our homes now. Our work here is unfinished,” said the resident of Ripon Street.
The 50-odd women sleep on a concrete floor under a wooden shed with little except blankets to keep them warm. They are not allowed to light fires to warm themselves.
“I am taking medicines for fever, apart from my regular medication. I cannot stand or exert myself for long but I won’t go anywhere till the act is revoked,” Asmat Jamil said.
Umar Khalid, a civil rights activist and former Jawaharlal Nehru University student who had visited Park Circus Maidan on January 13, told this newspaper over the phone: “Our daadis and naanis (grandmothers) will not move back a millimetre. They have sent a loud and clear message to the government that there is no turning back.”
As the evening progressed the crowd at the ground swelled and many students and professionals came after work and their classes got over. Many walked up to the women who were sitting and said words of encouragement.