‘Where’s Mamma’: Varanasi toddler’s parents jailed for anti-CAA protests
Playing in the lap of her aunt Debadrita in her house in Mahmoorganj area, one-and-a-half-year-old Champak is oblivious of the whereabouts of her parents, Ekta Shekhar and Ravi Shekhar, both social activists presently lodged in the Varanasi jail after their arrest along with 67 others on December 19 during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests.
Debadrita and Shashikant, elder brother of Ravi Shekhar, are taking care of baby Arya, who is fondly called Champak, in their absence.
“Champak is a breastfeeding baby. She has just completed one and a half years. She misses her parents and looks for them. Champak is very close to me because whenever Ekta and Ravi go out, I look after her. Ever since they have been arrested, we are looking after Champak,” Debadrita says.
Debadrita, however, says that while a mother cannot be replaced she is trying her best to keep Arya happy.
“We offer her milk, biscuits and play with her. We also take her out in the evening so that she could play with other children.”
Shashikant says ever since her parents have been arrested, the whole family is focused on her.
“Her ‘Buaa’ Shubhangi plays with her and takes her out in the park. When she watches picture of her parents in mobile, she looks at us as if she were asking where Mamma is,” he says.
Shashikant says they have filed a petition for bail for Champak’s parents, which will be heard on January 1 in a local court.
Champak’s separation from her parents came to light after Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted about the child on Tuesday.
“Several students, Gandhians, Ambedkarwadis, and social activists were protesting peacefully against the CAA in Varanasi recently. Police has sent them all to jail. A one-year child is alone at home. Such harsh punishment for peaceful protest! This behavior of the government has gone beyond limits,” said Priyanka in one of her tweets criticizing Uttar Pradesh government’s crackdown on anti-CAA protests.
At least 19 people, including an eight year old boy who died in a stampede in Varanasi, have been killed across Uttar Pradesh since December 19.
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