Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran continued their dialogue with protestors in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh locality for the second straight day on Thursday, PTI reported.
Women in the predominantly Muslim locality have been sitting round-the-clock since December 15 to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens. The protest has been challenged in the Supreme Court by petitioners claiming that the demonstrators have blocked traffic.
On Monday, the Supreme Court appointed the two mediators to convince the protestors to move their demonstration elsewhere. The first round of talks took place on Wednesday without any solution and protestors maintained that they would clear the site only after the amended legislation was repealed.
On Thursday, Hegde and Ramachandran said the media should not be present during the talks with protestors. The protestors tried to convince them that they want to present their problems before the media, but journalists were later asked to leave.
“You called us and we are here,” Ramachandran told the protestors at the start of their discussion. “Shaheen Bagh will stay,” she added, according to Hindustan Times. “Can we come up with a solution that the protests continue at Shaheen Bagh yet the roads are cleared? If a solution can be found, it will be great.”
The top court had upheld the fundamental rights of women, children and others protesting at Shaheen Bagh, but expressed concern over blocking public areas like roads while voicing dissent. Ramachandran reiterated this and said failure to come up with a solution would result in the matter being decided by the court.
Hegde said Shaheen Bagh has become become an example of protests in India. “Let us set an example of a protest that does not disturb anybody,” he added. “You all must rest assured that we are here to fight for you. Don’t think if you change your spot, your fight will die down.”
He added that the resolution of the road blockade could serve as a future template for holding of other protests. “We have seen many prime ministers come and go,” the advocate added. “Whoever comes in power and runs the country, sometimes some could be right and some could be wrong. Whatever you are saying the whole country is listening and also the prime minister.”
Ramachandran clarified that the negotiations were not about deciding the future of Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens. “Issues over NRC and CAA are before the Supreme Court and it will come up for hearing soon, though a date has not been given,” she said. “No one can tell which way the court will decide, we can’t talk about it today. But your point of view will be heard by the court.”
The mediators said they had been informed about alternative routes that could be opened and asked protestors to accompany them to tell them which roads were currently closed to traffic and which ones could be reopened, IANS reported.
Scroll.in has mapped the roads in the area and found that public inconvenience was being caused not just because of the closure of GD Birla Marg, an arterial road that connects Delhi to Noida in Uttar Pradesh. Two alternative routes that could have been used by commuters have been barricaded by Delhi and Uttar Pradesh Police. While Delhi Police officers claimed the barricades in front of the entry to the alternative routes were just “a security measure”, the Uttar Pradesh Police said they did it because of the Delhi Police’s barricades.
While a lawyer for an intervenor told the Supreme Court that essential services like school buses and ambulance services were being provided passage, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta claimed there was a total blockade.