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‘We’re here to find a solution’, interlocutors tell Shaheen Bagh protesters

The Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran at Shaheen Bagh on Wednesday, February 19, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Shinjini Ghosh

Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran on Wednesday made their first direct contact with women protesters of Shaheen Bagh, who have been on a sit-in against the the CAA-NRC-NPR regime since December 16.

“This was our first interaction with the women and dadis of Shaheen Bagh apart from other citizens. We heard their grievances and concerns. They want us to come again as we could not speak to all of them. They have expressed their pain and sorrow”, Ms. Ramachandran told reporters along with Mr. Hegde after a nearly two-hour interaction with the protesters.

The apex court on Monday upheld the fundamental rights of women, children and others protesting at Shaheen Bagh, but expressed concern over blocking public areas like roads while voicing their dissent.

“Democracy works on different views...you want to protest, no problem...our limited concern is whether you could protest without blocking roads and entering public areas...with every right there comes a responsibility too,” the court said while appointing the interlocutors to convey its apprehension over the road blockage and a suggestion to shift the protest site.

Initiating a conversation with the protesters, Mr. Hegde said, “We are here to listen to all and speak to you all.”

Ms. Ramachandran, while explaining the court order to the protesters, said: “It is your right to protest but like us, there are other citizens also who use the roads, like shopkeepers, doctors and others. Do we want to take away the rights of others? So the Supreme Court has sent us. We want to find a solution along with you all.”

Several women, including college students, homemakers and the Shaheen Bagh dadis, put forth their reservations before the interlocutors. Some stated that the current site would be vacated “within 30 minutes of the law being revoked”, while others asked what the “guarantee was that the government will initiate a discussion” if the protesters moved to an alternate site.

Zainab (19 told the interlocutors, “We are not celebrating anything here that we will keep shifting sites. Look at the kind of language that has been used by ministers. Why are we being vilified like this? Initiation of a dialogue should come from the government’s side. Is this a game that the Home Minister is playing with us? First he says he is ready to meet all and then we get stopped. We are going through a mental trauma.”

In response, Ms. Ramachandran said, “A country that has daughters like you can never face any threat.”

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 5:17:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-appointed-interlocutors-visit-shaheen-bagh/article30859456.ece

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