A key road near Delhi's Shaheen Bagh - where protests have been on for two months against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act CAA - was reopened briefly today by the Uttar Pradesh and Delhi Police 69 days after it was barricaded. The opening of the road for 40 minutes today to ease traffic congestion comes two Supreme Court-appointed mediators met those who have been sitting in protest for more than two months.
"We urged protesters to come up with creative solutions to the traffic situation, while simultaneously protecting their right to protest," senior lawyer Sanjay Hegde, one of the mediators, said after meeting the protesters for the second consecutive day on Thursday.
The Shaheen Bagh protesters, however, remained firm on continuing with their sit-in at the site and told the interlocutors that once the Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens (NRC) are rolled back, they will not only vacate the road but also clean it.
Sanjay Hegde and another advocate, Sadhana Ramachandran, were named as mediators on Monday as the matter ended up in court. They were tasked with persuading the protesters to continue their agitation in another location, so the road can reopen and commuters do not face problems.
The blockade of the arterial road that connects Noida and Faridabad near Delhi had been repeatedly flagged by the BJP as a law and order problem and was made the centrepiece of its campaign for the Delhi assembly election.
The Shaheen Bagh protests have made headlines worldwide and inspired protests across the country. Hundreds of men, women and children have been protesting on the road for over a month against the CAA, which makes religion a test of citizenship and which critics say discriminates against Muslim.
A petition last week sought directions to the centre and others for the removal of protesters from Shaheen Bagh in southeast Delhi. It stated demonstrators are illegally protesting against the citizenship law by blocking the common and public road connecting Delhi to Noida.