Two young women were evicted from their apartment in New Delhi's Lajpat Nagar area after they protested from the balcony when Union Home Minister Amit Shah was holding an outreach programme in support of the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Since then, the two women, one of them a lawyer, have grabbed headlines.
During Shah’s door-to-door campaign last Sunday, the duo unfurled a banner from their balcony and shouted slogans against the CAA. However, the events that followed were ugly.
Surya Rajappan, a lawyer at the Delhi High Court, told Outlook that their protest was not pre-planned.
“It was at the spur of a moment. While the rally was on, we took a white bed sheet and spray-painted it with slogans against CAA and NRC. The minister was outside our house when we unfolded the banner from our balcony, but he didn't look at it. That is when I shouted slogans because I wanted him to see what I had written. He kept walking and didn't look up,” Rajappan said.
When Shah left the area, the troubles began for Rajappan and her roommate. She said a group of 150 people landed at their doorstep and hurled abuses. Though the two managed to lock the door, Rajappan said the mob kept threatening to break it open,
“They threatened us and pulled down the banner. Our landlord also joined them and he threatened to evict us. They questioned our characters,” she said.
However, Rajappan said she was not cowed down by the threats. She said she has been actively participating in the ongoing protests in the national capital against CAA.
“I have seen how the protests are being quelled all over the country. Amit Shah has categorically said many times that they will not budge from their stand on CAA and NRC,” Rajappan said.
“This was once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to have my voice heard by Amit Shah directly. If I had not done it, I would have regretted for the rest of my life. I had to do it,” she added.
Though Rajappan and her friend managed to call their friends and family, she alleged that the mob didn’t allow them to enter the house. It was after three hours that Rajappan's father was permitted entry into the flat as her landlord bolted the common entrance to the house during the commotion.
“They wouldn't let any of our friends or family to enter my flat. They even pushed and abused them. I saw all this from the balcony,” said Rajappan.
She said they were allowed to come out of the apartment after seven hours and were escorted by police. “We only took some essentials with us,” Rajappan said.
Subsequently, the two women filed a police complaint against the flat owner and others who intimidated and threatened them.
Rajappan said she does not want to return to her apartment, even though the landlord has told them they can return. "I can’t go back to the flat, I fear for my safety and life. The mob consisted mostly of local residents."
On the consequences she faced for registering her protest, Rajappan said that the "voice of dissent is increasingly being stifled in our country".
“The voice of dissent is being stifled. Even as a lawyer, I had to face this. I am aware that it’s not easy for people in JNU, Jamia, Shaheen Bhag or Uttar Pradesh,” she said.
“This is not the India I grew up in. It's not about ideologies anymore. It's about humanity and it’s about India. And if you don't stand up right now, I think it will be too late. Everyone has to take a stand,” Rajappan said.