Mohammed Jahaan, a four months old infant accompanied his mother almost every day to the Shaheen Bagh protest where he was the crowd favourite among the protesters who often took turns to hold him.
Jahaan will no longer be seen at Shaheen Bagh as he died last week after catching a severe cold and congestion following exposure to the chilling winter at the outdoor protest. His mother is, however, undeterred and resolute to take part in the demonstrations, stating that it is for the future of my children.
The infant’s parents, Mohammed Arif and Nazia, live in a small shed made with plastic sheets and cloth in Batla House area and have two other kids who are five and one year-old respectively.
Hailing fron Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly, the couple is hardly able to make ends meet. Arif is a e-rickshaw driver and an embroidery worker. While 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'.
A clearly upset Nazia stated Jahaan passed away in his sleep on night of 30th January after returning from the protests.
"I had returned from Shaheen Baag 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 stated that they took their stock-still baby to a nearby hospital on 31st January where he was declared dead on arrival.
Nazia, who had been visiting the Shaheen Bagh protest everyday with Jahaan since December 18, stated that he passed away after catching a cold that turned fatal.
She further stated that she didn't realise that his congestion was so acute. However, the baby's death certificate issued by the hospital does not mention any specific reason for the death.
A neighbour who was there at the couple’s house, stated that Nazia had fought with her mother and husband to visit Shaheen Bagh everyday. Nazia would assemble all the women outside her house so that they could together walk to the protest site, around 2 km away. Sometimes, Arif would drop some of them to Shaheen Bagh on his e-rickshaw.
Nazia also stated that she strongly feels that the CAA and NRC are against the well-being of all communities and will join the Shaheen Bagh protests.
"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."
However, Arif 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.