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Thousands of Indians Welcome New Year With Spirit of Resistance

On a cold evening, a diverse group of concerned Indian citizens took to the streets to protest the new citizenship law.

By Ravi Sahani for
Thousands of Indians Welcome New Year With Spirit of Resistance

On New Year’s Eve, thousands of protesters gathered at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh area, situated on the outskirts of the national capital, to oppose a new, controversial citizenship law and a proposed citizens’ register. They called it a “black day” to mark their protest.

Credit: Ravi Sahani
Thousands of Indians Welcome New Year With Spirit of Resistance

Among the protesters were hundreds of Muslim women, many clad in burqas and accompanied by their children. The protesters at Shaheen Bagh have blockaded the highway that connects Delhi to the neighboring state of Uttar Pradesh for over a fortnight.

Credit: Ravi Sahani
Thousands of Indians Welcome New Year With Spirit of Resistance

The protest started after around 10 women came out of their homes to hold a demonstration against the Delhi police’s alleged excessive use of force against the students of Jamia Milia Islamia University, who were agitating against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register for Citizens (NRC).

Credit: Ravi Sahani
Thousands of Indians Welcome New Year With Spirit of Resistance

Critics of the Narendra Modi government believe that his Hindu nationalist party is modeling its anti-Muslim policies on Israeli persecution of Palestinian Muslims.

Credit: Ravi Sahani
Thousands of Indians Welcome New Year With Spirit of Resistance

Protesters gathered in large numbers despite Delhi facing the coldest winter in more than 100 years.

Credit: Ravi Sahani
Thousands of Indians Welcome New Year With Spirit of Resistance

Kids came with their parents to take part in the demonstration.

Credit: Ravi Sahani
Thousands of Indians Welcome New Year With Spirit of Resistance

Protesters listened to speeches by several social activists and local leaders who addressed the gathering.

Credit: Ravi Sahani
Thousands of Indians Welcome New Year With Spirit of Resistance

Volunteers made arrangements for medical facilities for the protesters in case of an emergency.

Credit: Ravi Sahani
Thousands of Indians Welcome New Year With Spirit of Resistance

Critics of the Modi government believe that the new bill is a blatant effort by the Hindu nationalist party to make India a Hindu Nation, which has been their longstanding goal.

Credit: Ravi Sahani
Thousands of Indians Welcome New Year With Spirit of Resistance

Several posters were installed at the protest site. One of them portrayed the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) as a “Communal Arbitrary Act.”

Credit: Ravi Sahani
Thousands of Indians Welcome New Year With Spirit of Resistance

A kid holding a placard that reads “Peace.” Over two dozen people have been killed in protests against the CAA and the NRC across India.

Credit: Ravi Sahani

Thousands of people in the capital city of Delhi braved the cold on New Year’s Eve to mark their protests against a new citizenship law that allows only non-Muslim refugees to apply for citizenship.

Delhiites joined residents, mostly women and girls, of the Shaheen Bagh area of New Delhi in entering the new decade singing the national anthem, raising slogans against the federal government, and reciting the poetry of resistance.

Mass protests, not just by Muslims but by a diverse group of concerned citizens, erupted in several Indian cities after December 15, when police in Delhi’s Jamia Milia Islamia University used tear gas and bullets and beat students with wooden batons to disperse protesters. More than two dozen protesters, mostly in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, have died in alleged police crackdowns.

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind approved the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 on December 12, paving the way for non-Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan to apply for citizenship. The law has no provision allowing Muslim refugees to become citizens.

Politicians from the governing Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have also proposed a National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is currently being implemented in the northeastern state of Assam and which may require all Indian residents to prove their citizenship even if they have passports or other government-issued identity cards.