New Delhi: Four-month-old Mohammed Jahaan accompanied his mother almost every day to the Shaheen Bagh demonstration against Citizenship law where protesters would take turns to hold him and often draw the tricolor on his cheeks.
Sadly, Jahaan will not be seen at Shaheen Bagh anymore. He died last week after acquiring severe cold and congestion following exposure to the winter chill at the outdoor demonstration.
Jahan’s mother is, however, undeterred and determined to participate in the protests.
“It is for the future of my children,” said Jahan’s mother.
The infant’s shattered parents, Mohammed Arif and Nazia live in a tiny shanty put together with plastic sheets and cloth in the Batla House area and have two other children—a five-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son.
Hailing from Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, the couple is barely able to make ends meet. Arif is an embroidery worker and also drives an e-rickshaw. His wife helps him in his embroidery work.
“I haven’t been able to earn enough in the last month despite driving the battery rickshaw in addition to my embroidery work. Now with our baby’s demise, we have lost everything,” he said, showing a picture of little Jahaan wearing a woolen cap that read ‘I Love My India’
Night of January 30
“Jahaan passed away in his sleep on the night of January 30 after returning from the protests,” said a visibly disturbed Nazia.
“I had returned from Shaheen Bhag at around 1 am. After putting him and other kids to sleep, even I went to sleep. In the morning, I suddenly found him motionless. He was gone in his sleep,” she said.
The couple took their motionless baby to the nearby Al Shifa Hospital on the morning of January 31 where he was declared dead on arrival.
Nazia, who had been visiting the Shaheen Bagh demonstration every day with Jahaan since December 18, says that he died after catching a cold that turned lethal.
She said she didn’t realize that his congestion was so severe. However, the doctors in the baby’s death certificate have not mentioned any specific reason for death.
Shazia, a neighbor who was present at the couple’s home, said Nazia had fought with her mother and husband to visit Shaheen Bagh every day. Nazia would gather all women in the by-lane outside her house so that they could together walk to the demonstration, around 2 km away. Sometimes, Arif would drop some of them to Shaheen Bagh on his e-rickshaw.
Nazia said she strongly feels that the CAA and NRC are against the welfare of all communities and will join the Shaheen Bagh protests, but this time without her children.
“Why was I doing this? For my children and the children of all us who need a bright future in this country,” she told PTI.
“The CAA divides us on religion and should never be accepted. I don’t know if there is politics involved but I know that I must question what is against the future of my children.” Arif, however, blamed the NRC and CAA for his child’s death.
“Had the government not brought CAA and NRC, people would not have protested and my wife would not have joined them, my son would have been alive,” he said PTI