Mediators interact with Shaheen Bagh protesters


Two mediators appointed by the Supreme Court yesterday met hundreds of women protesting against the new citizenship law at Shaheen Bagh in New Delhi.

“This was our first interaction with the women protesters. We heard their grievances and concerns. They want us to come again as we could not speak to all of them. They have expressed their pain and sorrow,” Sadhana Ramachandran, one of the mediators told reporters.

She and Sanjay Hegde who were appointed by the top court spent nearly two hours with the protesters.

The court on Monday upheld the fundamental rights of women, children and others protesting at Shaheen Bagh, but expressed concern over blocking public areas like roads while voicing their dissent.

“Democracy works on different views…you want to protest, no problem…our limited concern is whether you could protest without blocking roads and entering public areas…with every right there comes a responsibility too,” the court said while appointing the mediators to convey its apprehension over the road blockage and a suggestion to shift the protest site.

Hegde told the protesters: “We are here to listen to all and speak to you all.”
Ramachandran told the protesters: “It is your right to protest but like us, there are other citizens also who use the roads, like shopkeepers, doctors and others. Do we want to take away the rights of others? So the Supreme Court has sent us. We want to find a solution along with you all.”

Several women expressed their reservations. Some said they would leave Shaheen Bagh “within 30 minutes of the law being revoked”, while others asked “what is guarantee that the government will initiate a discussion” if they moved to an alternate site.

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Just minutes after Ramachandran and Hegde left the protest site, the third member of the team, former chief information commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, arrived with an entourage of advocates.

The move left media and protesters wondering if there was a rift between the mediators, or if it was a conscious strategy.

Habibullah did not accompany the two lawyers when they came, leaving protesters wondering about reasons for his absence.

“Where is our third advocate… where is Habibullah sahab,” the protesters were seen asking Hegde and Ramachandran.

In Chennai meanwhile, an anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest by Muslim groups demanding that the Tamil Nadu government pass a resolution in the assembly that the law will not be implemented went off peacefully.

Contrary to an earlier announcement, the protesters did not lay siege of the state assembly which was in session.

Thousands of Muslims held protests in major cities in Tamil Nadu including the state capital Chennai against CAA, the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR) yesterday.

In Chennai, a large number of Muslims men and women gathered near Kalaivanar Arangam. Some political parties have lent their support to the protest.

As a result of the protest traffic flow was affected on the main road Anna Salai and others in Chennai.

Security was been beefed up near the assembly. Police had installed CCTV cameras and also used drones to monitor the situation.