Mohammed Arif (R) and Nazia with one of their surviving children at their residence in Batla House, New Delhi
Mohammed Arif (R) and Nazia with one of their surviving children at their residence in Batla House, New Delhi
Photo: PTI

A regular at the Shaheen Bagh protest, four-month-old Mohammed Jahaan passed away last week. The toddler who used to accompany his mother almost every day to the site was a favourite with the protesters who would take turns to hold him and often draw the tricolour on his cheeks.

Now, following his death, his mother Nazia plans to return to the protest.

"My son had caught cold, there was no other health issue. We'll still go to protest for our country. We don't have any documents, what will we do? We demand that Modi ji & Amit Shah ji should take back CAA & NRC," she told ANI.

The ongoing Shaheen Bagh protests have been a bone of contention for many. The protests which December 15 continue to go strong, with hundreds staying at the venue, day and night.

Jahaan died after acquiring a severe cold and congestion following exposure to the winter chill at the outdoor demonstration. A visibly disturbed Nazia said Jahaan passed away in his sleep on night of January 30 after returning from the protests.

"I had returned from Shaheen Bagh 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.

She however remains undeterred in her support for the protests. She intends to return, and told PTI that it was "for the future of my children".

The family lives in a tiny shanty put together with plastic sheets and cloth in Batla House area and have two other children -- a five-year-old daughter and a one-year-old son.

Hailing from Bareilly in UP, 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.

The couple said they took their motionless baby to the nearby Alshifa Hospital on the morning of January 31 where he was declared dead on arrival.

His mother said that she didn't realise that his congestion was so severe. However, the baby's death certificate issued by the hospital does not mention any specific reason for the death.

Shazia, a neighbour who was present at the couple's home, said Nazia had fought with her mother and husband to visit Shaheen Bagh everyday. Nazia would gather all women in the bylane 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.

Arif had earlier 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.

(With inputs from agencies)

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