India citizenship act: 14-month-old baby waits as parents languish in jail

You can’t miss the smile of a little girl child. Photo: IANS
You can’t miss the smile of a little girl child. Photo: IANS

With her parents in jail after they protested against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), a 14-month-old baby girl in the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, Varanasi, has been living with relatives for the past one week.

The couple, Ekta and Ravi Shekhar, was picked up by Uttar Pradesh Police during a protest organised by the Left groups in the city on 19 December. Ayra, their 14-month-old daughter, is now being taken care of by her relatives at their home.

"My son has not committed a crime. Why have the police arrested him? He was protesting peacefully. Can you imagine how their child is living without her mother? Is this the way to control crime?" asked Sheila Tiwari, Ravi Shekhar’s mother.

The baby’s grandmother said that Arya was not eating in the absence of her mother. "Somehow we manage to feed her a few spoons of food. She says, ‘Amma aao, Papa aao (Mother come, Father come)’ all the time. We keep telling her they will come. We don’t know what to do," she said.

There has been a controversy over the arrests in Varanasi last week over the protests against the citizenship law.

Over 60 people have been arrested in Varanasi for protesting despite a ban on large gatherings. Among them are well-known activists Ekta and Ravi Shekhar. They run an NGO called Climate Agenda that focuses on air pollution.

The police has justified the arrests by saying that the protests led to tension in the holy city.

An eight-year-old boy had died in a stampede allegedly triggered by the police baton-charging on protesters in a different part of the city during the anti-CAA protests last week.

The relatives and well-wishers of Ekta and Ravi Shekhar say the priority for them is to get bail for the couple and to fight the case legally in court. They are praying that the baby gets her parents back soon.