NEW DELHI: Shaheen Bagh, a Muslim majority locality in south Delhi, has become a symbol of the huge protests across India against the government’s citizenship proposals. On Sunday evening despite a harsh winter, thousands of people raising slogans of freedom gathered here to celebrate Jashn-e Shaheen (Evening of Kings, an evening of poetry and songs).

Crying Hum kya chahtay: Azadi! and Bol ki lab azad hain teray (What do we want: Freedom! and Speak for your lips are free / Say that your lips are free) thousands showed up here to celebrate resistance with artists like Kunal Kamra, Ankur Tewari, Maya Krishna Rao and many others who performed in solidarity with the people of Shaheen Bagh.

Some prominent Pandit Kashmiris including MK Raina and Inder Salim were also invited to speak to the people present. Earlier during the day controversy had broken out on “Twitter” after filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri tweeted to claim that the reason behind Jashn e shaheen was to celebrate the forced displacement of Pandit Kashmiris from the Valley in 1990 after the eruption of armed resistance in Kashmir.

“This event has nothing to do with the evacuation of Kashmiri Pandits, this is all propaganda spread by the right wing to crush our peaceful movement against the Citizenship Amendment Act,” said an organiser requesting anonymity. “Some days ago an inter-faith ceremony was witnessed here.”

A protestor in her forties said, “We feel the pain of Kashmiri Pandits who left everything back in Kashmir and ran. We the people of Shaheen Bagh stand in solidarity with them in their agony.”

“The Modi sarkar (government) is making propaganda through their puppet media, saying that people are joining this protest for 500 rupees and a plate of biryani, but let them see today how the whole of India has become Shaheen Bagh,” she said.

At the request of one of the speakers a two-minute silence was observed by all present at the protest in solidarity with Pandit Kashmiris.

“They thought we would sit here for a couple of days and go back home, but they haven’t realised that the people of India have woken up now, and we will fight together despite our religions, against any injustice done in India,” a young demonstrator said.

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