After words, Delhi Police is now using Twitter to persuade Shaheen Bagh protesters

The protesters have set up a stage on the carriageway towards Noida from Sarita Vihar on the road, which has prompted the police to close all traffic towards Noida.
People gathered to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Shaheen Bagh, in New Delhi.(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
People gathered to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) at Shaheen Bagh, in New Delhi.(Burhaan Kinu/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Jan 21, 2020 01:49 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

With back-door meetings to persuade protesters yet to bring any results, Delhi Police are now using Twitter to request the protesters to clear the road, a 2.5km-long connection between Delhi and Noida, at Shaheen Bagh.

Thousands of people, including women and children, are protesting for more than a month now at Shaheen Bagh and nearby Jamia Millia Islamia to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The protesters have set up a stage on the carriageway towards Noida from Sarita Vihar on the road, which has prompted the police to close all traffic towards Noida and Delhi. Protesters have also blocked the opposite carriageway going to Delhi from Noida with a 30 feet high India map made of iron.

The closure has led to spillover jams in Ashram and parts of Mathura Road, with other Noida-Delhi connections farther away, such as the Nizamuddin bridge, also being hit.

‘Extreme hardship’

Delhi Police are now urging the protesters on Twitter.

“We have already appealed to you once before. Meanwhile, more complaints have been received regarding inconvenience due to blockade of Road No.13A, particularly to school children who are facing extreme hardship in reaching their schools, coaching centres and private tuitions,” Delhi Police tweeted on Monday.

“Their parents have expressed deep anxiety in view of forthcoming Board examinations. Daily commuters, local residents and businesspersons are also facing acute harassment,” they said.

The police then issued an appeal to the protesters to clear the road so that normal traffic could be restored.

The number of protesters goes up to at least a thousand at any time of the day. Two kitchens that offer free food and tea to the protesters have also opened on the side of Road 13A.

In response to police’s appeal, a few Twitter users claiming to be Shaheen Bagh protesters—HT could not independently verify their identity—replied they too were facing ‘hardships’ because of the new citizenship law.

Another user replied with a video of a group of people opening a barricade and allowing a school van to pass through it. But the police said such videos are only half-truths.

“They may have opened barricade and cleared the road at a spot which is more than a kilometre away from the sit-in protest. Both the carriageway is blocked. No school bus or cab from Noida of parts of Delhi can use the road. This is a lie spread on social media,” a police officer, who did not wish to be named, said.

In another tweet two days ago the Delhi Police had said, “We appeal to agitators at Road No. 13 A Shaheen Bagh to understand the sufferings that the complete highway blockade is causing to residents of Delhi & NCR, Senior Citizens, emergency patients & school going children.”

Many Twitter users had replied to that tweet as well.

One of them wrote, “these people can go through the other way home, office, hospital, but what about the mental torture we are facing...”

PILs in court

The matter is in court as well.

After filing a public interest litigation (PIL) at Delhi High Court, lawyer-activist Amit Sahni has approached the Supreme Court. Sahni has sought its directions to the police to ensure smooth traffic flow on the Kalindi Kunj-Shaheen Bagh stretch.

Sahni has filed the special leave petition in the top court also seeking supervision of the situation in Shaheen Bagh by a retired Supreme Court judge or a sitting judge of Delhi High Court in order to circumvent any violence.

Delhi High Court on January 14 did not order forthwith removal of traffic restrictions, he said in his plea, adding the HC had said that no direction can be issued by it on how to handle an agitation or the place of protest and the traffic as it depended on ground reality and wisdom of police.

The high court had reiterated its order to the police on January 17 directing the force to look into the traffic situation in Shaheen Bagh.

Traffic police estimates show the Ashram intersection, the worst hit by the closure of Road 13A, used to get nearly 350,000 vehicles during peak morning and evening rush hours. However, over the last month, it has been taking an additional load of 100,000 vehicles a day.

The protests at Shaheen Bagh have continued even after a section of organisers pulled out on January 2.

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Saturday, May 21, 2022