- Barricading unconnected roads led to chaos: Wajahat Habibullah to court
- Police have blocked 5 roads with no connection with protest, he said
- Names of those blocking parallel roads should be revealed: Mr Habibullah
Wajahat Habibullah, the Supreme Court-appointed interlocutor for the Shaheen Bagh protests, has told the court that the women protesters have chosen the spot for safety, since they have been getting regular threats. He also said there were five alternate roads in the area which were blocked by police or residents and the allegation that the protest was inconveniencing traffic was not correct.
In an affidavit to the court, Mr Habbibullah said: "I noticed 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. It is this barricading of unconnected roads that has led to a chaotic situation."
He also said the police should reveal the names of persons responsible for the decision to block the parallel and arterial roads in the area.
The blockage of the road by protesters had become a key issue ahead of the Delhi assembly elections, with the BJP blaming the protesters and accusing Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of encouraging them. "Feeding biryani to Shaheen Bagh" was how the BJP's star campaigner and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath put it.
Mr Habibullah said the protesters were not blocking school vans or ambulances as has been alleged by political parties. "I was informed that all ambulances and school vans that clear the police barricade after being found to be genuine by the police, are given immediate safe passage through the protest site," he said in the affidavit.
He also added that the protest was a peaceful one, attended by people belonging to all faiths brought together by theri opposition to the CAA, NRC and the NPR.
The CAA - which expedites citizenship for non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who feld theri countries and settled here till 2014 because of religious persecution -- taken together with the NRC (meant to weed out illegal migrants) would be used by the government to target the Muslims, the protesters fear. They also oppose the National Population Register, considering it as a first step to the NRC.
Along with Mr Habibullah, the court has also appointed senior advocates Sanjay Hegde and Sadhana Ramachandran as mediators.
The two have visited Shaheen Bagh several times over the last week to speak to the protesters and asked for a dialogue away from the media. The protesting women, however, said they want the talks to take place in presence of the reporters.