The Shaheen Bagh locality in Delhi that became the centre of the Assembly election contest between the Aam Aadmi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party observed a silent protest on Tuesday, The Indian Express reported. Since December 15, women in the predominantly Muslim locality have been sitting in a round-the-clock sit-in against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and the proposed National Register of Citizens.
Shaheen Bagh is part of the Okhla constituency in Delhi. Aam Aadmi Party leader Amanatullah Khan is set to win the seat, and at last count was leading the BJP’s Braham Singh by more than 77,600 votes.
“Today’s protest is silent,” read one of the placards at the protest site on Tuesday. “We don’t support any political party. Our fight is beyond one election. Please understand that.” The protestors refused to speak to reporters as the results trickled in. Another placard said the protestors were against police brutality. “We don’t support any political party,” it added.
A man said the protestors would not speak to the media as their words could be twisted. “This protest is not about opposing or supporting any one political party,” he added. “We don’t want anyone to get the wrong message today. We won’t allow either the victors or the losers to manipulate us.”
Mohammed Wasim, a local resident, told the newspaper that their movement had no connection with any political party. “It’s great that the protestors have decided not to speak today,” he added. “No politician has spoken up for us. In a democracy, we have to vote for someone. But that doesn’t mean we support everything that party stands for.”
Another protestor, identified as Zubair, said the saffron party could not have won Okhla as the it never tried to speak to the protestors.
In the run-up to the elections, the BJP had tried to portray it as a referendum on the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act demonstrations, particularly the one at Shaheen Bagh. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah criticised the protestors, with Modi alleging that the real agenda of the demonstrations was being obscured through the use of the Tricolour and Constitution as symbols. Union minister Anurag Thakur exhorted a crowd at a rally to shout “shoot the traitors” while BJP MP Parvesh Verma called Kejriwal a “terrorist”, and alleged that Shaheen Bagh protestors would rape and murder women.