Shaheen Bagh protesters mull strategy to talk to SC-appointed mediation panel

Protest organisers held multiple meetings to decide who should represent them at talks and whether a section of the road should be cleared to prevent traffic jams.

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NEW DELHI: Shaheen Bagh agitators went into a huddle on Tuesday to discuss possible changes to the protest to abide by the Supreme Court advice ahead of their meeting with the court’s interlocutors. Protest organisers held multiple meetings to decide who should represent them at talks and whether a section of the road should be cleared to prevent traffic jams.

A day after the SC appointed Sanjay Hegde, Sadhana Ramachandran and former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah as interlocutors, the protesters primarily agreed that a woman lawyer would best represent them. They considered the inadvisability of continuing with the protest with the weather turning warmer. “Two women fainted a few days ago. We wanted to send a team to AIIMS asking for a team of doctors. Some of them agreed to help us out after official hours,” said an organiser.

There is a legal team at the protest venue and lawyers take turns to be there. “The responsibility, however, has been on mostly senior women, seven of who have been regular here since December 15. Many of us are of the view that the movement cannot be hijacked by a few who want to claim to be our representatives,” said Asif Ahmed, one of the organisers. On Tuesday evening, a few women asked SC advocate Mehmood Pracha to leave the venue, even as some of them favoured his continued presence.


A senior protester, Salma, said it would be better if the delegation met with the protesters than asking for a meeting only with a section of them. “Most of us are not in favour of shifting the venue. The government has not paid attention to our protest for 66 days. Do you think they will listen to us if we are protesting in some corner?”

On Tuesday morning, there were only 55 women, fewer than most days. One of them, Asifa, said many women were tired. A group of traders met with the women and asked them to limit their protest to half a km and facilitate reopening of shops. “My sympathies are with the women but I am worried about my business though my rent has been waived,” said Shadab Aalam.

The women told ET they were willing to clear the road opposite to the venue if the police would unblock five other roads barricaded for security reasons. “The Supernova Junction that leads to Okhla, the Apollo Junction that leads to Sarita Vihar and the Mahamaya Junction going to Noida are blocked for no reason. Why are areas over a km away from the peaceful protest venue blocked,” asked Aneesa. The protesters said they were willing to let through autorickshaws carrying school children.
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Meanwhile, Hegde told ET that he had received the court order on Tuesday evening and will decide on talks soon.
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