NEW DELHI: Octogenarian Z R Quraishi has seen bloodshed after the country's partition in 1947 and during the 1984 riots, and his only appeal to people is to not fall prey to "politics of polarisation" but promote brotherhood.
Old Delhi resident Quraishi, 83, was among the people born before India's independence who attended Arvind Kejriwal's swearing-in ceremony at the historic Ramlila Maidan on Sunday.
"Our country is going through a churn right now.
The kind of situation we are seeing among people is what we saw during the British-era among all sections of society," he told PTI.
Quraishi, who used to earn a living earlier by running a meat shop in the walled city, said he shut his shop many years ago after all his children got settled in government jobs.
"I was born in the 1930s and India at that time was also going though massive ruptures in its bid to become a free nation. People came together and fought together for a common cause. I am seeing that same kind of coincidence and union among people today ('waisa ittefaq aur ittehad aaj phir se hai)," he said, referring to the anti-CAA protests happening across the country.
He lamented that politics today has become of "low quality" where real issues of development "take a backseat" and "politics of communal polarisation is used as a tool to gain power".
"People should not fall prey to politics of polarisation but promote brotherhood instead," the 83-year-old cautioned.
Devki Nadan Chaudhary, 85, came all the way from Bihar's Begusarai to attend the event.
"I was moved by the results of the elections and wanted to be part of the swearing-in event. So I came here accompanied by a neighbour from my hometown," he told PTI.
"My neighbours said it (the ceremony) would be a festival of democracy, so I wanted to join in. I get excited to see youth caring about our country," he said.
Chaudhary and Izhar Ansari, 42, came to Delhi on Saturday in a train from Bihar.
"In our times, flour, dal, ghee and milk was pure and inexpensive. Now we get all adulterated stuff. Even our politics has got mixed up now. But it is important that we work towards building the future of the nation. People should know the real meaning of freedom and never let it be compromised," Chaudhary said.
"I have seen the struggle for 'azaadi'. We must never take it for granted," he said.
Namita Devi, 81, who came from Bhuj, said she can identify with the thought process of the present generation who are protesting.
"The freedom struggle was similar for us. I think Kejriwal can assume the role of the leader who can take us through this struggle (in reference to anti-CAA and NRC protests)," she said.
Surender Singh, Devi's husband who is 85, said, "After a long long time we have seen a leader like Kejriwal who we know can change things and we are willing to see if his model can be replicated in the whole country".