After demonstrators against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) did not betray a modicum of sensitivity for fellow citizens who have not been able to reach their workplaces in time for the past 70 days, Wajahat Habibullah, the mediator appointed by the Supreme Court, filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court regarding the road closure, stating that the protest was going on “peacefully”. He complained rather that police had blocked the road at five places. Unnecessarily!
If the blocking was lifted, vehicular traffic would resume, the affidavit claims. It states that the police closed the road unnecessarily, due to which people are facing daily hassles.
The Supreme Court had asked Habibullah to mediate between the protesters and interlocutors Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran to find a solution to the deadlock on an important arterial route of the capital city. While Habibullah did go to the protest site following the Supreme Court’s directive, he arrived at 4:30 PM — much after Hegde and Ramachandran did on the first day. It was barely an hour before sunset.
In his affidavit, Habibullah has written that the police have unnecessarily closed the road which is causing problems to the people. Though the activists allowed passage to school buses and ambulances, Habibullah found it a problem that these vehicles were allowed to ply only after a police check.
The government should talk to the protesters on the issue of CAA, NPR and NRC, the former CIC wrote in the affidavit. Habibullah is a former IAS officer who was also the chairman of the National Minorities Commission at one point.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on the Shaheen Bagh issue on Monday.
Talks with Shaheen Bagh activists inconclusive
Earlier on Saturday, the negotiation of Ramachandran with protesters in Shaheen Bagh ended inconclusively. The interlocutor had arrived here at 10:30 AM for the fourth consecutive day and persuaded the protesters to give passage to the daily commuters.
The protesters placed seven demands before the interlocutor and said that until the CAA was withdrawn, the road would not be vacated. But that is not a problem according to Habibullah.
Ramachandran said, “If the path is not opened, we will not be able to help you. We are not asking you to end the protest.” She said, “I have not come here on behalf of the government. We will ask the Supreme Court to give you security. You will be given a park, where you can continue the protest.”
Then the activists at Shaheen Bagh opened an alternative route to Noida and Faridabad on Saturday. Only small vehicles, cars and bikes could go through this route as the width of this path is narrow. This route goes through Noida and Faridabad via Holi Family, Jamia, Batla House and Abul Fazal. This path broadens towards Noida but narrows towards Faridabad.
The protesters opened only one way of the Noida-Faridabad route. Barricades are still placed on the way back.
Other routes were opened for a while on 22 February when it seemed that the talks were successful in ending the logjam, but activists — not the police — rushed back to those spots and shut the routes again.