Shaheen Bagh Sit-in: Cops Hold out Veiled Threats; Women Remain Resolute

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Muslim women stage a sit-in demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019, National Register of Citizens (NRC) and National Population Register (NPR), in New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh on Jan 17, 2020. (Photo: IANS)

Mohd. Aasif | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI – Police started negotiations with protesters after the the high court here put the onus on Delhi Police to manage the traffic at Shaheen Bagh. Some protesters said cops held out veiled threats to them against continuation of the protest there.

A team of five policemen visited the protest site on two different days, led by the SHO and ACP respectively. “They video-graphed the protest scene during their negotiations,” said Abid, one of the protesters there.

Protesters have occupied Road 13A that connects Delhi to neighbouring regions. Traffic has been diverted to other routes.

Women of Shaheen Bagh believe that if they quit the spot, it will spell their defeat. Protesters are skeptical whether or not their demands will be met. “Our demands will not be addressed if we shift to another location,” said Mahroonisa on strike for 19 days.

Police is negotiating with women to change the venue for the protest to the Kalindi Kunj Park or on the 40 feet road inside Shaheen Bagh area. The administration wants them to open at least one side of the road. However, protesters resolutely adhered to their stand. “If the police want to vacate the spot, they should first send a legal notice,” said Shahnawaz, one of the organisers.

On the question of use of force by the police, Shahnawaz says that it will be a mistake. “If the cops dare do so, they will have to face the rage of the people,” he said.

THREATS FROM COPS

Individuals in the movement are being threatened. “Police called us at station, one at a time, to negotiate and even threaten us,” said Abid. Referring to the police’s hidden motive in the name of ‘negotiations’, Abid said cops spoke of NSA and he was then told to do everything with utmost care. Else, he might be arrested, he was warned in so many words. Abid said, “Ambulances are allowed to pass through. Schools were on winter vacations but could be taken care of.”

It is reported that some of the shopkeepers and residents’ welfare associations find the movement being troublesome. Justifying the efforts of the women sitting on the protest, one of the volunteers wondered, why would women sit if their demands are met? “We would not have come to the streets if they had listened to our kids in Jamia,” said Mehroonisa.

The protesters want their demands be addressed by the government. They have started writing letters to the Prime Minister’s Office. “The Sit-in will continue and gain more strength until and unless some government representative came forward and gave assurances to us about fair-play,” said Abid.

However, co-protester Asif says, “It will be good if one side of the road is opened for traffic.” Yet, another protester dismisses it as a personal ‘opinion’. “It has no value. Women will take the final call,” said Abid. Furthermore, protesters are planning to observe Republic Day, on January 26, on the spot.

Lt. Colonel Bijender Khokar addressed the gathering. He said, “Common Hindus do not relate with the idea of Hindutva.” Lt. Colonel Khokar had taken an early retirement from the army. He was also a member of the India Against Corruption movement in the beginning of 2011.

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