Day three of the negotiations between Shaheen Bagh protesters and Supreme Court-appointed mediators Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran, the mediation process seemed to have made some progress with the women protesting against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) asking the apex court to pass an order to ensure their security if the road parallel to the protest site is opened.
On their part, the interlocutors pointed at how several adjoining roads were being blocked by the police and hinted at how the protesters are not single-handedly responsible for blocking the traffic.
"When several adjoining roads are open, why are they insisting for us to move from this road? This is not the only road connecting Delhi to Noida," a woman protester told the interlocutors on Friday during the discussion. The mediators were at the protest site to urge the protesters to shift to another site and free the road on which the sit-in is being held as per a mediation process prescribed by the Supreme Court on 17 February.
The women protesters, who have staged a sit-in against the CAA for over two months now, told the interlocutors on Friday that the police barricaded the road parallel to their tent, besides two other roads that connect to the Shaheen Bagh-Kalindi Kunj road.
A police official, who was also called to discuss the matter, told the interlocutors that the parallel road, as well as certain other roads, were kept barricaded to give protection to the protest site. "We barricaded the parallel road to ensure security to the protest site. If the road is opened to commuters, we will ensure double security to the protesters," the police official said.
A woman protester stood up and told the mediators, "The government thinks women are uneducated. All of us are educated women who know what we are fighting for. The students from Jamia Millia Islamia University, who were teaching us more on CAA and NRC, are being beaten up. If the police could not stop the men who fired at us, how are they claiming that they will protect us if the parallel road is opened?"
Another woman protester said, "We want in writing that if there is a single incident of attack or firing, the police officials, from the SHO to the police commissioner, should be shunted out. Home Minister Amit Shah has said the NRC is not coming soon, so ask him to issue a circular, saying they are not bringing the NRC now. We want the Supreme Court to pass an order on our security if the road adjoining the protest site is opened."
Discussions between the protesters and the mediators on (Wednesday and Thursday) had yielded no breakthrough on the issue. Following it, the interlocutors checked on all the roads connecting Delhi to Noida late on Thursday, along with some protesters and police officials.
Addressing the protesters on Friday, Ramachandran said, "When we checked on the roads, we noticed that you (protesters) were right. Many roads are open, which were blocked by the police. I am very upset to say that the Noida-Faridabad Road, which was opened on Friday, was again closed by the police. Whoever has done this is now answerable to the Supreme Court."
No separate meetings, reiterate protesters
The women protesters, however, once again were determined against the mediators' condition for separate group meetings.
On Thursday, Hegde and Ramachandran had said that they would prefer meeting the protesters in groups of 20 at a site apart from the current protest site, which is on a section of a road connecting to the blocked Noida-Faridabad expressway. However, the protesters had refused the terms of the meeting.
The protesters have maintained that all of them were together and that the mediators should put forth their points before everyone.
One of the protestors, Mehrunisa, was quoted as saying on Thursday that there will be no talks in groups as suggested by Ramchandran. "There would be distrust among the rest who did not meet them in that particular group. Whatever they have to say, they should say it before all of us," stated Mehrunisa.
"There will be no talks in groups. We are here with others. And we want everyone to listen to what others have to say, " Shakila, another protester, said. Asked if women will agree to the conditions set by interlocutors of meeting them in groups and batches, she said, "Why? We won't. We are here together. We have sat here braving the rains and cold. We won't vacate. If they want to brief the court, they should do it about CAA and NRC."
Another women protestor, who called herself, Hindustani, said that the protest is a mass movement and talks cannot be held in groups.
Ram Singh, a 95-year-old protestor, said, "I have come here to protest against Modi and CAA. If anything untoward happens here, it will have an impact on the whole country."
"They saw the adjoining roads. They came here for roads. We will not vacate it. There are other roads blocked by Delhi police. There have been many protests where roads were blocked. We want CAA to be repealed and NPR should be the one that was 10 years ago," said another protestor.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Feb 21, 2020 22:05:47 IST