Shaheen Bagh protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, held mostly by women, enters its 64th day today. The protest has been underway since December 15 last year. The 24/ 7 leaderless protest, led by women, young and old have won everyone´s heart. So much so that it has inspired many Shaheen baghs all across the country, from Uttar Pradesh to Tamilnadu.
The quiet, peaceful civil disobedience style has baffled national and international media but mostly the BJP because they do not know what to do with it.
All women protests have become an eyesore for BJP leaders. They tried to communalise, criminalise and ghettoize it. They even tried to fight the entire Delhi elections on Shaheen bagh but to no avail.
Now they have sought the legal route with the excuse of “road blockade”.
BJP leader files petition against Shaheen Bagh for causing “road blockade”
Delhi BJP leader Nand Kishore Garg along with Advocate Amit Sahni had filed the petition seeking clearance of Shaheen Bagh protests, which had been going on for over sixty days against Citizenship Amendment Act and proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens.
Garg, in his petition, said the law enforcement machinery was being “held hostage to the whims and fancies of the protesters”, and sought the court’s intervention to formulate guidelines for protests in public places.The petitioners alleged that the protests have led to an “alarming situation” due to the “blockade” of the road between the Kalindi Kunj and Mathura Road region, which connects Delhi-Noida-Faridabad. This has led to traffic being diverted to the Delhi-Noida-Delhi (DND) flyway, which sees lacs of commuters, and needs to be decongested.
Sahni had earlier approached the Delhi High Court, seeking directions to the Delhi Police to ensure smooth traffic flow on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch. The HC had asked the police to look into the matter.
‘Protests genuine but see if it can be shifted elsewhere’
Supreme Court bench comprising Justice S K Kaul and K M Joseph heard the petitions seeking clearance of Shaheen bagh protest.
The bench said- “You cannot block public roads. There cannot be an indefinite period of protest in such an area. If you want to protest, it has to be in an area identified for protest,”
“We are not saying that people don’t have the right to raise their concerns. The question is where to protest? Because if this continues on the roads today for this legislation, tomorrow it could be done for another legislation,” Justice Kaul said.
“There’s a law enacted, and challenge to it is pending in the Court. It’s fine that some people may want to protest. The protests have gone on for many days… There must be an area where you can protest. It cannot be held wherever one wants. It has to be in identified area… Otherwise people will go and protest anywhere,” said Justice Kaul, adding that protests cannot be held at the cost of the citizens’ interests.
Mediation team to talk to the Protesters
The Supreme court also set up a mediation team headed by Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran to hold talks with the protesters to come to a “reasonable solution” so that roads are no longer blocked. Hegde said that he should be accompanied by former SC judge Kurien Joseph.
It posted the next hearing for Monday, 24 February.
Advocate Shashank Deo Sudhi, appearing for Garg, had then urged the court to pass an interim direction, saying people have been facing difficulties for several days now. The bench, however, declined the request. “If you have waited for over 50 days, you can wait for some more days,” it said.
Why the area around Shaheen Bagh is heavily barricaded by Delhi Police?