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Toddler’s Death is Squarely on Shaheen Bagh Protesters

Where are child rights activists and organisations? Why is there no furore? Why have the courts not taken suo motu cognizance of how children are being used for propaganda?

Anand Narasimhan |

Updated:February 4, 2020, 12:23 PM IST
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Toddler’s Death is Squarely on Shaheen Bagh Protesters
File photo of Shaheen Bagh that has become an epicentre of anti-CAA protests.

Last week, the Shaheen Bagh protests claimed the life of an innocent. A four-month-old toddler succumbed to illness contracted due to exposure to the biting Delhi cold. Some 50 days ago, he was headlined along with his mother as a symbol of the protest. The mother had claimed that she was, against the will of her husband and rest of the family, sitting on the protest for the future of her children. It’s a cruel irony that she herself has nipped her child’s future in the bud.

Mohammed Jahaan’s death is not a sacrifice at the altar of anti-CAA protests, which is what some prone to political romanticism would have us believe. Let us not romanticise this hapless child’s death and lay the blame squarely where it ought to be. Jahaan has died due to negligence of his parents. Jahaan is dead because his mother didn’t give priority to his health. Period!

Where are child rights activists and organisations? Why is there no furore? Why have the courts not taken suo motu cognizance of how children are being used for propaganda, made to chant slogans they shouldn’t be chanting and being subjected to the vagaries of nature all because some people believe propping up women and children as the face will lend a certain ‘softness’ & ‘legitimacy’ to their protests? Will the Child Rights Commission pass immediate orders that children should not be part of these political protests?

Jahaan’s parents are migrants from Uttar Pradesh. A family of five, including Jahaan, lived in a makeshift shanty in the Batla House area. They struggled to make both ends meet. What should have been priority for the mother? Safety and well-being of her children or participating in a motivated protest that is also inconveniencing lakhs of people in the capital and surrounding regions? This death is on the protestors at Shaheen Bagh. They have deliberately encouraged children to be on political platforms when they should be in school or at home. They have overlooked the safety and well-being of innocents to further their political motives.

Prime Minister Modi rightly said that Shaheen Bagh is an experiment. It is a model which is being tested so that the template can be taken to other parts of the country. He said that if it was only about CAA and concerns around NPR and NRC the protesters would have let up after the initial efforts to engage with them.

My heart goes out to the little child. Someone else decided his fate. Someone else took him where he shouldn’t have been. Someone else was so caught up in propaganda that she forgot to attend to her child. That someone was his mother. Will the sitting MLA who shared the Shaheen Bagh stage accept responsibility? Will all those leaders who used the Shaheen Bagh platform for their 15 minutes of fame accept responsibility for Jahaan’s death? No, they will slink away… brush it off as an unfortunate event, even hail it as a sacrifice. Contrary to what some protestors claim, Truth is ‘Allah ki naimat ko Insaan ki laparwahi ne maar diya’

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