SOURCE: TIMES NOW
When the country is battling coronavirus and fight against the pandemic has entered a decisive phase, Shaheen Bagh protesters have written a letter to SC judges protesting against their forcible eviction from the anti-CAA protest site by the Delhi police at dawn on March 24.
They argue that the raid was wholly illegal and arbitrary at a time when the matter was ‘sub judice’ before the Supreme Court which had not asked them to vacate but only give an alternate site. They have sought a probe into the involvement of all the unidentified, non-designated and non-police personnel present with the police forces at Shaheen Bagh between 6-10 am on March 24.
The protestors claim they had already decided to vacate the protest site in view of the “emerging situation with respect to COVID-19”, except for two or three women who would have remained present to symbolise the protest. These women would have observed the necessary physical distance and other precautions to guard against the coronavirus. They further claim that they had prepared a statement to be submitted to the Supreme Court through the interlocutors with this update. But the hearing scheduled for March 23 did not happen.
They also sought protection from SC during the pendency of the case.
While we understand the need for stricter imposition of curfew and enforcement of pertinent restrictions, the ruthless dismantling and thoughtless destruction of the markers of our physical protest, especially the very structures whose placement is in question in a matter that is sub judice in the SC, reeks of strong vendetta and ill feelings towards our innocent protesters, locals and sympathizers”, the letter said
Protesters were removed and some detained, more than 102 days after they started the agitation, amid a lockdown and curfew in the national capital over the coronavirus outbreak.
This came at a time when SC is seized of petitions seeking removal of the protesters who have been blocking a main road linking Delhi and Noida
Remember the Supreme Court had said CAA, the law enacted by the Parliament is facing constitutional challenge before this Court but that by itself will not take away the right to protest of the persons who feel aggrieved by the legislation. But SC had asked two interlocutors Sanjay Hegde and Sadhna Ramachandran appointed by it to negotiate with the protesters to try and remove them to an alternative site saying public road cannot be blocked
SC had said, “Protest is fine however, the question is where and how protest can carry on without public ways being blocked. Our concern is more than this matter alone, as there may be persons of different points of view who may tomorrow seek to emulate this protest; such scenario only leads to chaotic situation. This must cease on public ways everywhere.”
The court had remarked that there cannot be indefinite closure of a public road, there should be a designated area for such protests or everybody will protest everywhere causing nuisance to the public. “Protests cannot be carried out at the cost of citizens’ interests…they cannot be inconvenienced.”
Hours after the Delhi Police forcibly evicted the Shaheen Bagh anti-CAA protest site citing Corona outbreak, interlocutors Hegde and Ramachandran issued a press statement saying that at present the fight against the pandemic should be the priority and appealed to the administration and the protesters not to do anything further that will aggravate tensions.
“We request everyone to see the issue not as a question of win or lose. The country has a grave pandemic threatening it and currently that must receive priority in terms of everyone’s attention. We request the administration and the protestors to now not do anything that will exacerbate the underlying tensions that culminated in the street protests. We thank the Supreme Court, the protesters, the police and the media for the trust placed in us,” their statement said.