Interlocutors ask agitators to shift venue of sit-in protest against citizenship legislation
Mediators assure the Shaheen Bagh agitators that SC acknowledges their right to protest
NEW DELHI :
In its first attempt on Wednesday, the Supreme Court (SC)-appointed interlocutors reached out to the protesters at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh and requested them to move the venue of their sit-in demonstration against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA.
Protesters, mostly women, have been demonstrating against the citizenship Act for over two months, leading to daily traffic jams in the area.
Following a petition before the SC seeking directions to clear the road, the apex court on 17 February appointed senior advocates Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran as mediators to diffuse the standoff.
Hegde and Ramachandran briefed the protesters about the SC’s order, assuring them that the court acknowledges their right to protest, before explaining why thoroughfares cannot be blocked indefinitely. During the over-two-hour-long interaction Ramachandran tried to convince the crowd “how the protests can carry on without public ways being blocked". She added that a solution would receive worldwide appreciation and the Shaheen Bagh protesters will also be complimented for it.
The discussions to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution are expected to continue. The Supreme Court has directed the interlocutors to file their report by Monday.
The media was kept out of the interaction as the mediators did not wish to discuss all options before reporters.
Speaking to reporters after the interaction, Hegde said: “Today was just the first meeting and we simply listened and tried to understand the grievances of the people. Also, such things take time and the process cannot be hurried."
Ramachandran said in accordance with the wishes of the protesters, they will be coming again on Friday to carry forward the discussions.
However, the protesters clarified to the interlocutors that there will be no closed-room talks, and no committee will be formed to represent the Shaheen Bagh protesters.
According to people aware of the developments, Hegde had a meeting with officials of Delhi Police earlier in the day. The police had apprised him of the situation, highlighting the problems arising due to the road closure.
Traffic restrictions have been imposed on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch and the Okhla underpass since 15 December, due to the protests against CAA and the National Register of Citizens.