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Monday, March 30, 2020

‘You called us and we are here’: SC mediators to Shaheen Bagh protesters

The panel was appointed by the apex court Monday after it acknowledged that people have a fundamental right to protest, but that there were “lines and boundaries” for expression of views in a democracy.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: February 20, 2020 6:32:19 pm
Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors (L) Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran addressing protesters at Shaheen Bagh, Wednesday. (Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

The Supreme Court-appointed two-member mediation panel comprising of senior advocates Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran arrived at New Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh for the second round of talks on Thursday. They however were not willing to start the discussion in the presence of media.

The protestors tried to convince them that they want to represent their issues before the media, but the journalists were later asked to leave.
Ramachandran began addressing the protestors saying, “Aapne bulaya hum chale aaye (You called us and we are here)”.

The two senior advocates had visited Shaheen Bagh — the epicenter of anti-CAA protests in Delhi — on Wednesday. “Supreme Court has said that you have a right to protest, but like us there are other citizens who also have rights, like those who use this road… we want to come up with a solution with you on the Supreme Court order. Solution should be yours. Whose andolan is it and whose solution should it be? Does anyone here want someone else’s right to end? We want to listen to you. In our country we respect each other’s views… I have faith that we will come up with such a solution that will become an example to the whole world,” Ramachandran told the protesters.

The panel was appointed by the apex court Monday after it acknowledged that people have a fundamental right to protest, but that there were “lines and boundaries” for expression of views in a democracy.

The mediators initially faced resistance when they demanded a dialogue with people at the venue without the presence of media. In an interaction later, the panel was told that the protest site occupies a 150-metre area on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh road stretch, which can be opened by the police, leaving out the site.

shaheen bagh mediation, shaheen bagh anti caa protests mediation centre, citizenship amendment act shaheen bagh, supreme court mediation panel, what is mediation Anti-CAA protesters at Shaheen Bagh. (Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

On Monday, a bench of Justice S K Kaul and K M Joseph had observed that one set of people taking to public roads to air their grievance can inspire others which will ultimately lead to chaos. Democracy, the judges had said, is about the expression of views but “there are lines and boundaries” for it.

In Shaheen Bagh, women have been spearheading a protest against the citizenship law since December 15, 2019. The protest has also inspired similar demonstrations in Kolkata, Lucknow, Chennai, among other places

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