Shaheen Bagh can stay, but interlocutors want roads cleared as well

One of the mediators say they are seeking a solution to clear the roads but let the protests continue

Shaheen Bagh
SC-appointed interlocutors Sanjay Hedge and Sadhana Ramachandran at the Shaheen Bagh protest site | PTI Photo

Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors, Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran, met the protesters at Shaheen Bagh for the second consecutive day on Thursday (February 20) and assured them they would find a solution while letting the protest to continue. The first round of talks between them concluded on Wednesday without a resolution.

Hundreds of women, including the elderly and even children, along with men have been staging a sit-in demonstration for over two months at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh, making it the epicentre of protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR).

Related news: Mediators propose talks with protesters away from media glare

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On Monday, the top court observed the road blockade at Shaheen Bagh was “troubling” and suggested the protesters go to another site where no public place would be blocked. It, however, upheld their right to protest and appointed the two interlocutors to persuade the protesters to shift to another site to end the 68-day impasse.

“Shaheen Bagh will stay,” Hindustan Times quoted Ramachandran as saying from the stage as a thunderous applause welcomed her statement. “We will to arrive at a solution and let the protesters at Shaheen Bagh continue at the same time,” she added. She said it will be great if a solution is found to clear the road blockades and let the protests continue as well.

Shaheen Bagh
An elderly anti-CAA protester gestures while speaking to the interlocutors at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh | PTI Photo

The two interlocutors, however, were not willing to start the discussion in the presence of media. The protesters, who have been demanding the government to repeal the contentious citizenship legislation, tried to convince them that they want to represent their issues before the media, but the journalists were later asked to leave.

Addressing the protesters, Hegde said the Supreme Court has recognised their right to protest. “When Shaheen Bagh has become an example of protests in India, let us set an example of a protest that does not disturb anybody. You all must be rest assured that we are here to fight for you. Don’t think if you change your spot, your fight will die down,” he told the protesters.

Related news: Fear, insecurity, unity behind Chennai’s own Shaheen Bagh protest

“We have seen many prime ministers come and go. 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,” said Hegde. Ramchandran said she was “really waiting” for that day when the “country’s atmosphere will change”.

Meanwhile, an elderly man expressed his fear about his children’s security, saying, “I am very scared for my children. Madam save me.” “I am a single father. I will die and go but my children should get to live here with authority. My girls go to school where they are being told that you will go out of the country,” the protester said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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