On Thursday, the panel and the protesters had interacted about the future of the protest and the road closure it has caused. (Express Photo: Praveen Khanna)
As the two Supreme Court-appointed mediators returned to Shaheen Bagh for the third day of talks, protesters made it clear that they will not shift from the venue. On Thursday, the panel and the protesters had interacted about the future of the protest and the road closure it has caused.
Sadhana Ramachandran and Sanjay Hegde were appointed by the top court to find a resolution to the issue. Ramachandran started the interaction by saying: “We know there are alternate roads that can be used. But you also said that the canopy covers one side of the road. Then why can’t we tell the police to remove barricades from the other side?”
Women in the crowd got agitated, and one of them stood up and said, “We can’t risk our lives for your convenience. You must be aware that there have been incidents of firing here. We are not safe despite all the security. Women like Gunja Kapoor walked in wearing a burqa and tried to film us secretly. We need more security and won’t shift unless you give us an assurance that we will be safe. Why can’t police reopen other roads?”
Protesters cheered and asked the advocates to get a response from the police. The lawyers called the SHO of Shaheen Bagh, who said, “We have come here multiple times and requested you to vacate the other side of the road. But you refused. We’ll put barricades and I assure you that law and order will be maintained. If we reopen the other side, we will place more barricades and deploy personnel.”
A protester then told police and advocates, “Please don’t forget the day a man jumped barricades in front of you and fired bullets. Will the Commissioner of Police or the DCP resign if something happens to us?”
Hegde tried to pacify the crowd with a song: “Chodo kal ki baatein, kal ki baat purani.”
He told the protesters that the SC supports their right to protest and added: “I know you are sitting here for your citizenship rights. But you can’t be stubborn and sit here indefinitely. If you decide to adjust, everyone, including the SC, will support you. The bigger fight will be the case against CAA and NRC and you need support.”
Protesters later said they are ready to reopen the other side of the road, if police provide adequate security arrangements.
Ramachandran supported the women and said, “We will talk to the court and police about this. I understand that you need assurance from the police and we will get you one. Let’s agree to reopen the other side of this road.”
On Wednesday, the advocates had promised protesters that they will inspect the roads blocked by police.
“Protesters told us that police have blocked alternative roads. Yesterday, we went with four volunteers and police to inspect those roads. We came to a conclusion that the road which links Noida to Faridabad can be reopened. We told police to remove barricades and they did listen to us in the morning. I don’t know what went wrong afterwards and someone blocked the road again. We condemn this and will inform the Supreme Court,” said Ramachandran.