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Shaheen: Flower, not bullet

The mob invasion was the latest in a series of attempts to bait or intimidate the 50-day-old peaceful protest

By J.P. Yadav in New Delhi
  • Published 3.02.20, 1:10 AM
  • Updated 3.02.20, 1:10 AM
  • 2 mins read
Protesters during a demonstration against CAA, NRC and NPR at Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi on Saturday. (PTI)

A mob on Sunday tried to provoke the Shaheen Bagh protesters chanting “Shoot (goli maaro) the traitors”, a day after a youth fired a gun at the spot, but the unfazed women responded with “Goli nahin, phool (Not bullets but flowers).”

Desh ke gaddaron ko, goli maaro…” the mob of over 100 — it remained uncertain

which pro-Hindu group was involved — screamed from just across the police barricades.

“Desh ke in pyaron ko, phool barsaon saaron par (Shower flowers on these beloved compatriots),” was the reply from the women, who sprinkled a few petals on some of their fellow protesters on dharna.

The mob invasion was the latest in a series of attempts to bait or intimidate the 50-day-old peaceful protest, largely by women and children, against the new citizenship regime.

Initially, the police were accused of seizing the protesters’ food, blankets and water, and then of abusing them in foul language — allegations the force has denied. Senior BJP leaders including home minister Amit Shah have been targeting Shaheen Bagh in their campaign speeches for the Assembly polls.

Several of them have been banned temporarily from campaigning, not least for the “goli maaro” chant — blamed for Thursday’s firing by a youth on a Jamia Millia Islamia student on a heavily policed Delhi street.

Two days later, a man identified as Kapil Gujjar fired in the air at Shaheen Bagh and shouted “Hindu rashtra zindabad”.

On Sunday, the mob arrived waving saffron flags and demanded the police clear the site of protesters. They chanted one slogan after another: “Shaheen Bagh khali karo (Clear Shaheen Bagh)”; “Jai Sri Ram”; “Bharat Mata ki jai”….

After allowing the din for 10 to 15 minutes, the police got the crowd to leave.

A fringe outfit, the Hindu Sena, had earlier given a call to get Shaheen Bagh “cleared” on Saturday but scrapped the programme after a meeting with the police.

Local people said that many among Sunday’s mob were residents of nearby Sarita Vihar, marshalled by pro-Hindu outfits.

Some claimed the Hindu Mahasabha had organised the heckling; others suggested the Hindu Sena had done it in the name of the Hindu Mahasabha.

“They are trying to scare and provoke us but they will not succeed. Our determination is strong and we will continue our peaceful protest,” said Aqib Khan, who had come to participate in the protest on Sunday afternoon along with his wife and children.

People kept arriving at the site in hordes on Sunday evening, Tricolour in hand, despite Saturday’s firing.

“(Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and Shah are trying to create enmity between Hindus and Muslims but are not succeeding, so they are frustrated. This protest wouldn’t have lasted without Hindu support,” said Farooq Khan, a local trader.

“But we are not going to fall in their trap (of provocation). We have increased the vigil here.”

Not depending on the police, local youths were manning all the entry points on Sunday, frisking arrivals for weapons.