Shaheen Bagh interlocutors submit report: SC to hear matter on Feb 26
New Delhi, Feb 24: The Shaheen Bagh interlocutors submitted their report on the ongoing protests against the newly amended citizenship law. The report was submitted to the Supreme Court which had appointed the interlocutors last week to negotiate with the protesters at Shaheen Bagh, here.
The report was submitted in a sealed cover and the court said that it would examine the report. The Bench comprising Justices K M Joseph and Sanjay Kishan Kaul however refused to give a copy of the report to the petitioners. The case will be heard next on February 26.
Among the various demands made by the protesters was a guarantee by the Supreme Court to protect them. They also sought that the cases filed against the residents of Jamia Nagar be withdrawn.
Earlier former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah told the Supreme Court the protest at Shaheen Bagh here against the Citizenship Amendment law was peaceful and inconvenience being caused to commuters was due to barricades "unnecessarily" put by police on roads far away from the site.
The same stand has been taken by social activist Syed Bahadur Abbas Naqvi and Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad in their joint affidavit filed in the Supreme Court in the matter.
Habibullah, Azad and Naqvi have jointly filed an intervention application in the Supreme Court which is seized of the matter.
Habibullah had visited the protest site at Shaheen Bagh pursuant to the direction by a bench of Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph. The bench is scheduled to hear the matter on Monday.
The top court is hearing pleas seeking removal of protesters from Shaheen Bagh and ensuring smooth traffic flow in the area.
The Supreme Court had earlier said that though people have a fundamental right to protest "peacefully and lawfully", it was troubled by the blocking of a public road at Shaheen Bagh as it might lead to a "chaotic situation".
In his affidavit filed in the top court, Habibullah has contended that "Shaheen Bagh stands tall as a firm example of peaceful dignified dissent, more so in the face of various instances of state-sponsored violence on similar dissents across India."
"We have been sad and mute witnesses to police brutality and negative typecasting of a particular community across the country. Crushing dissent instead of entering into a dialogue is the new norm, but it is alien to our Constitution," he has claimed.
Naqvi and Azad, in their joint affidavit, have alleged that "the present ruling dispensation, at the behest of its political masters, had devised a strategy of extinguishing these protests by falsely attributing violence and acts of vandalism to peaceful protesters".
They have also said that police has "unnecessarily" barricaded numerous roads that "have no connection with the protest" and are at a great distance from the site, thereby, "abdicating their responsibilities and duties and wrongly laying the blame on the protest".
"It is these barricading of unconnected roads that has led to a chaotic situation," Habibullah has claimed and added that if the barricades are removed from the 10 points he has mentioned in the affidavit, "the chaos complained of in the petition would cease".
In a separate affidavit, Naqvi and Azad have claimed the issue of inconvenience to commuters has been "deliberately orchestrated by the police" by blocking all the surrounding roads as well as the arterial roads connecting Delhi, Noida and Faridabad.
They have further alleged that one of the petitions has been filed by lawyer Amit Shani, who is an active member and supporter of BJP posing as a concerned citizen, as his place of residence, office and direct route of daily commute are nowhere near Shaheen Bagh.
Habibullah, in his affidavit, has also stated that the protesters have asked him to convey to the Supreme Court that their dissent "was out of desperation and compulsion" as they see the CAA, National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) as a "death knell" for their and future generations' survival and existence.
The other concerns voiced by the protesters were that CAA and the intention behind it, as publicly voiced by those in power, "has struck a deep fear into the hearts of many poor and under-privileged citizens of India".