Police take persuasion route to clear Shaheen Bagh protest site

Shaheen Bagh
As per early trends, Aam Aadmi Party has taken a comfortable lead over its closest rival BJP. Photo: PTI file

Delhi Police is following the policy of persuasion rather than force to clear the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch which had become a popular site for protests in the national capital against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) since last month.

The process of clearing the busy arterial road comes after the Delhi High Court directed the police to look into traffic restrictions on this stretch. “The police has initiated the process of clearing a road at Shaheeen Bagh near Jamia Millia Islamia,” said a government official.

“The police is following the policy of persuasion rather than force to clear the busy arterial road,” the official said. Officials said that police will talk to traders’ bodies, religious leaders and community elders to end the blockade.

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The protests at Shaheen Bagh started after last month’s police action at Jamia Millia Islamia, during which several students were injured. The agitations had, since then, gained widespread media attention, including foreign media.

Many people in South Delhi were inconvenienced due to the closure of the road as it snapped a direct link with satellite town Noida. The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the city police to look into traffic restrictions on the stretch, which has been closed for nearly a month due to protests against the Act.

Meanwhile, the police has examined eight suspects, including Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union president Aishe Ghosh, for their alleged involvement in the violence at the premier institute, the official said.

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The Delhi High Court Tuesday said the police has the power to control traffic wherever protests are going on and directed it to look into a plea against restrictions on Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch which has been closed for a month due to agitations against CAA.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar said, however, no direction can be issued by the court on how to handle an agitation or the place of protest and the traffic as it depends on the ground reality and the wisdom of police.

The court passed the order while disposing of a PIL seeking a direction to lift restrictions on Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch and Okhla underpass, which were closed on December 15, 2019 for ongoing protests against CAA and National Register of Citizen (NRC). It was a temporary measure but has been extended from time to time.

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The Kalindi Kunj stretch is vital as it connects Delhi, Faridabad (Haryana) and Noida (Uttar Pradesh) and commuters are forced to take the Delhi-Noida-Delhi (DND) Expressway and Ashram, which is causing hours of traffic jams and wastage of time and fuel, the plea said.

The court also said the authorities should keep in mind the “larger public interest” and also the maintenance of “law and order”. The bench said it ought to be kept in mind that whenever any agitation or protest is going on, the situation is like fluid, it keeps on changing looking to the temperament of the protestors and resistances by other people.

However, the court refused to direct the authorities to look into the issue in a time-bound manner. The high court, on January 10, had refused to entertain an application, in the form of letter, seeking directions for removal of demonstrators protesting the CAA at Shaheen Bagh here in order to clear road blockages that are causing traffic congestions at the DND route.

(With inputs from agencies)

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