A day before the Supreme Court resumes hearing pleas against the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act protest at Shaheen Bagh, former chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities Wajahat Habibullah on Sunday said that the ongoing protest was peaceful and that a number of roads have been unnecessarily barricaded by Delhi Police.
Habibullah, who accompanied interlocutors Sadhana Ramachandran and Sanjay Hegde to the spot on February 19, said in a signed affidavit that “there are numerous number of roads that have no connection with the protest that have been barricaded by the police unnecessarily, abdicating their responsibilities and duties and wrongly laying the blame on the protest”.
He also sought to know the names of those responsible for taking such a call. The former chief information commissioner will submit the affidavit before the apex court tomorrow.
“It would be in the fitness of things if the police are asked to reveal names of the persons who were responsible for the decision to block all other parallel and arterial roads in the area and UP, instead of carrying out their duty of regulating the traffic on the same,” the affidavit read.
Habibullah’s affidavit also carries photos and a google map of the roads that have been blocked.
The road parallel to G D Birla, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Friends Colony, Maharani Bagh, Sukhdev Vihar have been restricted to commuters, the affidavit read.
The access to and from Okhla have been closed by piling stones, and the route from Noida on the Greater Noida Expressway to Delhi and Faridabad have been blocked by the Uttar Pradesh Police, he said.
Additionally, the access from Akshardham Temple leading to Kalindi Kunj, Jaitpur, Madanpur Khadar and Faridabad have also been blocked, he added.
In its last hearing, the top court had appointed interlocutors with the mandate to persuade anti-CAA protesters at Shaheen Bagh in Delhi to end their blockade of a public road.
The bench of Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph said one set of people taking to public roads to air their grievance can inspire others to follow suit and this will ultimately lead to chaos. Democracy, the judges said, is about expression of views but “there are lines and boundaries” for it.
Hearing two PILs — one by Advocate Amit Sahni and another by Delhi BJP leader Nand Kishore Garg — which highlighted difficulties on account of protesters occupying a road in Shaheen Bagh, the bench said the way out could be for someone to try and convince the agitators to move out, may be to an identified location. It also asked Delhi Police to suggest alternatives.
On Saturday, a one-way route connecting Noida with Kalindi Kunj, was opened, allowing one-way traffic from the Shaheen Bagh-Jamia Nagar locality and Ashram towards Noida through the Kalindi Kunj bridge.
On Friday, Ramachandran had told protesters: “We know there are alternate roads that can be used. But you also said the canopy covers one side of the road. Then why can’t we tell the police to remove barricades from the other side?”
The next hearing of the apex court has been scheduled for February 24.