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Winter Dispatch

Here today, gone tomorrow: Why Shaheen Bagh is a city story

A two-kilometre stretch in south Delhi’s crowded Shaheen Bagh stays barricaded on both ends. There are tents somewhere on the middle of this stretch. Hundreds of women, some with children on their lap, sit in front of a podium where posters criticising the amended citizenship law are pinned on bright cloth. Some women are in burqa.

The voice of an angry man fills the air. On the podium, waving his hand, he says, “Don’t be afraid. Allah will protect you.” After some time, he asks people if they wanted to go for namaz - it’s Friday. “You can pray behind the tents,” he says. The next speaker introduces herself as a teacher from Jamia Millia Islamia University, whose students faced the Delhi Police’s full might a few weeks ago during a protest.

Except for the tents, the entire stretch at Shaheen Bagh is mostly empty. Some children are playing cricket. Others in white kurta and skull caps are pushing cycles. A large drain clogged with plastic waste cuts the road underneath. The odour stin…

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