If you change your spot, your fight will not die down: Mediators tell Shaheen Bagh protesters
New Delhi, Feb 20: Talks between the Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors and protesters to vacate the road at Shaheen Bagh made little headway on Thursday as the anti-CAA agitators remained firm on continuing with their sit-in at the site. They told the interlocutors that once the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens are rolled back, they will not only vacate the road but also clean it.
According to a report in India Today, interlocutors will again visit Shaheen bagh to continue their efforts. They will talk to women protesters in the absence of men and media. Also, it said that the third round of talks will take place at a different location.
Senior lawyers Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran, the apex court-appointed interlocutors who reached the site in the afternoon on the second consecutive day, were not willing to start the discussion in the presence of media.
When the protestors managed to convince the interlocutors to let the media cover the proceedings, a media personnel's remark irked them. The interlocutors subsequently asked the media to leave the tent where discussions were on.
The discussion lasted for nearly three hours. Ramachandran began addressing the protesters saying, "We have come here for you. We have to think over it and talk in detail. We are thankful that yesterday we received blessings from all dadis."
She also appealed to the protesters to find another way to continue with the protest that does not cause inconvenience to others. A crowd of over 100 men and women were not convinced. They unanimously replied in the negative. Hegde too tried to persuade them. He said the apex court has recognised their right to protest.
"We cannot do a 'my way or the highway here'. We need two hands to clap. If we get adamant and tomorrow if there is a bigger issue and lawmakers put their foot down and do not listen..." Hegde said other citizens of the city also need to work, travel and feed their families.
"When Shaheen Bagh has become an example of protests in India then let us set an example of a protest that doesn't disturb anybody. You all must be rest assured that we are here to fight for you. Don't think that if you change your spot, your fight will die down," Hegde said.
"We have seen many prime ministers come and go. Whoever comes in power and runs the country....sometimes they could be right or wrong. Whatever you are saying the whole country is listening and also the prime minister," he added.
On Monday, the Supreme Court observed that the blockade of the road at Shaheen Bagh was "troubling" and suggested the protesters go to another site where no public place would be blocked. It, however, upheld their right to protest.
The apex court also asked Hegde to "play a constructive role as an interlocutor" to persuade the protesters to move to an alternative site. It said the interlocutors could seek former bureaucrat Wajahat Habibullah's assistance.
The protesters -- many turning emotional or angry -- shared their grievances with the interlocutors on Thursday. A man broke down while talking to the interlocutors.
"I am very scared...very scared of what will happen to my children. Madam save us," he said.
The interlocutors asked him what is he scared of, to which he replied, "I am a single father. My girls go to school where they are being told that you will go out of the country."
Another man, while talking to them, said, "I have a national flag on my bicycle. We love this country and stop calling us traitors." His daughter who appeared to be below 10 years old told mediators, "I am a young girl and I want a beautiful India." Ramchandran repeatedly tried to address their concerns. "Who says NRC and CAA can't be rolled back? The Supreme Court will decide on this. You have all the right to seek rollback of this legislation.