SC to hear pleas against Shaheen Bagh protest after polls
Two pleas demanding that Shaheen Bagh protest site is vacated were put on hold by the Supreme Court on Friday and will be taken up on Monday, two days after Delhi casts its vote to choose the next Chief Minister. Asserting that it understands there is a problem, the top court added it didn't want to "influence" the elections, hence, deferred the hearing.
The protest started in mid-December, days after the new law on citizenship came into existence. Women of this largely Muslim locality demanded to scrap the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and opposed BJP's plans to implement a nationwide National Register of Citizens (NRC). On nights when Delhi froze, they stayed put. As days passed, foreign/Indian media and activists thronged the site.
The protest, however, took a toll on daily commuters, who couldn't take the Shaheen Bagh-Kalindi Kunj route due to blockade. The burden was put on Delhi-Noida-Delhi flyway, prompting petitioners to go to courts. During last month's hearing on the same matter, the Delhi High Court commented that Delhi Police is aware of the on-ground situation. Cops should deal with the protest, accordingly, HC underscored.
In the apex court, two pleas have been filed requesting to clear the Kalindi Kunj road. One, filed by lawyer and activist Amit Sahni demands that the situation should be monitored by a retired SC or Delhi HC judge to "circumvent any violence". The second petition was filed by BJP member Nand Kishore Garg. He sought directions to remove the protesters from the site.
When the petitioner demanded an urgent hearing and opposed rescheduling, Justice SK Kaul said, "Cat is out of the bag... that (elections) is the exact reason we are adjourning." The bench, also including Justice KM Joseph, remarked, "Why should we influence it (the election)? We understand the problem and we have to see how to resolve it. We will take it up on Monday."
The constant traffic congestion prompted locals of Sarita Vihar to march towards the CAA protest site a few days ago demanding that the area is vacated. Holding tricolors, they shouted slogans but were stopped mid-way. One protester named Tyagiji told IANS that one needs to show ID cards and go through metal detectors to pass through. "As if it's their private property," he added.
The anti-CAA protest has also led to polarization in several areas like Badarpur, Kalkaji, Sarita Vihar, and Tughlakabad. All these areas are close to Shaheen Bagh. Two residents of Sarita Vihar told the agency that the Shaheen Bagh protest constantly comes up for discussion in their family WhatsApp groups. The major conclusion is that protesters are taking "undue advantage of being from minority community".