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Police barricaded many roads with no link to Shaheen Bagh protests, says former CIC

One part of the road which leads to Noida is now open for transportation at Shaheen Bagh on February 23, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Bibek Chettri

The police have barricaded a number of roads with no connection to the peaceful protests at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, former Central Information Commissioner and former Chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities Wajahat Habibullah said in his ground report to the Supreme Court.

“Shaheen Bagh stands tall as a firm example of a 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,” Mr. Habibullah said in an affidavit.

Mr. Habibullah said focus should be on who was the power behind blocking these arterial and parallel roads. It is these unnecessary blockades of thoroughfares by the police which has led to a chaotic situation. Why does the police block roads in and around Shaheen Bagh, rather than regulate traffic to avert chaos?

Thousands of accesses in Delhi are blocked by residents of various colonies and by the privileged and the powerful, but the police take no action against them.

The Supreme Court had recently reached out to the protesters, asking them if they could move their agitation to an alternative site to free traffic flow. The court had upheld their right to protest but said it should not inconvenience public movement. It had appointed interlocutors, senior advocate Sanjay Hegde and advocate Sadhana Ramachandran, to talk with the protesters. Though Mr. Habibullah is an intervenor in the case, the court had agreed to a suggestion made by his counsel to ask him to engage in a dialogue with the protesters.

Mr. Habibullah’s affidavit, filed in the Supreme Court, details what he saw at the protest site during his visit on February 19.

Mr. Habibullah said the protesters are a strongly bonded community of people from all faiths. They are composed of children, women, middle-aged and the old who have faced “blatant threats” to their lives, been shot at and abused as “anti-national and Pakistanis” for expressing their united dissent against the CAA-NPR-NRC. He described the protest ‘iconic’.

The affidavit said the protesters wanted to convey to the Supreme Court that they are terrified that the CAA would sound the death-knell for the survival and existence of their future generations.

They said the intentions voiced by those in power through the CAA-NPR-NRC has “struck deep fear into the hearts of many poor and underprivileged citizens of India”.

A Bench led by Sanjay K. Kaul is scheduled to hear the case on Monday.

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Printable version | Mar 2, 2021 1:35:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/police-barricaded-many-roads-with-no-link-to-shaheen-bagh-protests-says-former-cic/article30895866.ece

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