In Pics: Chennai’s Own Shaheen Bagh Against CAA – ‘Shaheenpet’
"We are proud to see how the women of Delhi are standing their ground and putting up a tough front. They are pulling a Jallikattu protests Round 2. So we are also joining in now.”
That is what protesters at Chennai’s Old Washermanpet have to say about their own version of Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh – now aka, Shaheenpet, thanks to social media.
If you get off at Pencil Factory bus stop in Korukkupet these days, you will come across hundreds of men, women and children. The chants of azaadi and inquilab zindabaad echo as artists, social activists, local leaders, common folk – everyone – take turns to explain why they believe the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) is discriminatory to some religious groups.
The Quint walked into these lanes to bring you a glimpse of Chennai’s very own Shaheen Bagh, or as its now being called – Shaheenpet.
Sitting on the side of the massive gathering at Washermanpet, this old woman told The Quint, “We women have left our jobs at home and outside to be here as our country needs women to save it".
This gathering came together after a scuffle broke out between the protesters and police at the Old Washermanpet area on 14 February, when police lathi-charged and detained anti-CAA protesters. Following that, multiple protests have taken place across the state in the last two days, condemning police high-handedness on anti-CAA protesters.
“On 14 November, our kids were participating in a few competitions in school but when the protest intensified, we chose this over our kids’ school event. Today (Monday) will be the second working day they are missing but this is no big deal. This, right here, is a lesson for the kids to understand what the country is going through,” said Faheeda, who was at the location with her one-year-old baby when police beat protesters with lathis.
“Do not be like those channels which record everything but then when we wait hoping to see it on TV or mobile, nothing is shown. This video or photo you are posting should reach Narendra Modi and Amit Shah and they should know what our goal is,” urged this elderly woman as we captured her on camera.
“Do you need some water? You seem tired...why don’t you take this packet of biscuit? Shall I send a guy to help you walk through the crowds?,” said an usher, reaching out to journalists, protesters and others at the cite. Several men and women are stationed all over the place to direct people to the protest site, escort women who need to walk through a crowd, provide water and food packets and to ensure order and discipline.
“They are providing us with safety, water and food. Our job is to stand up for the nation. That is the least we can do for Bharat Mata.” said a woman protester who sat in front of the stage.
Though a majority of the participants were from various Muslim communities, everyone here stated how the place was for all, irrespective of gender and caste.
“No CAA, No NRC,” shouted the Vijay fan as he showed off his face paint.
Hundreds of women, across all age groups, in the streets near the Pencil Factory at Washermanpet are determined to keep the fight going.
Waheeda, who has been part of the organising group at the protest, said they are amazed at how much of support they have been receiving.
“People here pitched in from their savings and many well-wishers have sent in donations. People who can’t be here want to make sure we have food, water and shelter from the sun and rain, so that we can continue our protest,” she said.
As you take a left turn to enter this area, many can be seen standing along the main road, directing traffic and helping pedestrians cross the road. The protesters are taking turns to ensure traffic and public life is not disrupted.
“We have left all our work because we have decided to protest. God will take care of us,” said a confident Saira Banu, who has been sitting in for the fourth consecutive day.
This young boy’s mother was proud to maker her son sing slogans demanding an ‘Akhand Bharat.’
The group here has divided themselves into several committees to take care of discipline, food, water, traffic and other supplies, especially special items for children, so that the protest goes on while lives are not disrupted.