19, Feb 2020 | CJP Team
On Wednesday, Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandra, the interlocutors appointed by the Supreme Court reached Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh to mediate with people protesting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR).
Hegde told media persons, “We have come here according to the order of Supreme Court. We hope to speak to everyone. We hope to resolve the matter with everybody’s cooperation.” Addressing protesters Ramachandran said, “Supreme Court has said that you have the right to protest. The law (CAA) has been challenged in the Supreme Court. But like us, others too have their rights, like right to use roads, open their shops.”
However, there was drama earlier in the day after BJP’s IT Cell head Amit Malvia tweeted a video showing CJP secretary Teesta Setalvad at the protest site. He alleged that Setalvad was ‘tutoring’ the protesters, a claim Setalvad shoots down. According to Setalvad, she was asked to come in to just begin a widespread democratic process “to generate widespread involvement in questions that need to be addressed following the SC historic order of Feb 17. And CJP spent five hours yesterday in helping initiate a process that went on through the night.”
The women of Shaheen Bagh have now identified a series of questions that need to be addressed. These are:
1) Will changing the style or kind of protest change or weaken it?
2) The protesters feel most comfortable an safe at Shaheen Bagh as this is their home. Who will guarantee the safety of the protesters, especially the women, at another location?
3) Protesters are only occupying half a kilometer. Is the opening up of half the highway/road where Shaheen Bagh is, a possible solution?
4) If public or vehicles are attacked at another location, who will take responsibility for that?
5) If the protesters are not heard at Shaheen Bagh, will they be heard anywhere else?
Responding to allegations made by Malvia and a few television news channels she said, “The disgusting attempts by some pro BJP and govt TV channels to dare suggest malicious motives in CJP’s involvement in a pre-mediation process is nothing short of a despicable and desperate attempt to deny Shaheen Bagh women protesters their agency. Can anyone dare suggest that women who have sat through Delhi s bitter cold for 65 days can be tutored? It’s demeaning and a diversion.”
Setalvad has been in the regime’s crosshairs ever since 2002 when she dared to expose the complicity of the Gujarat state administration’s top brass in allowing unchecked spread of anti-minority violence in wake of the Godhra train burning incident. Now that the former Gujarat Chief Minister is the country’s Prime Minister, is it any surprise that his ‘devotees’ would engage in a virtual smear campaign against Setalvad in a wider attempt to delegitimise the protests against their pet projects like CAA-NRC-NPR that are blatantly anti-minorities?