Monday, 30th October 2017

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Shaheen Bagh waits

On February 13, when the grannies unveiled a red teddy bear as a gift for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come and meet them, Shah said that he would give anyone an appointment in 3 days

By Pheroze L. Vincent in New Delhi
  • Published 17.02.20, 2:29 AM
  • Updated 17.02.20, 2:29 AM
  • 2 mins read
Protesters against the CAA and the NRC at Shaheen Bagh on Sunday. Picture by Prem Singh

Protesters at Shaheen Bagh, led by the resilient grannies against the CAA, symbolically marched for a few metres from their protest tent and stopped at a barricade in response to an earlier statement by home minister Amit Shah that he was willing to give them an appointment.

On February 13, when the grannies unveiled a red teddy bear as a gift for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to come and meet them, Shah had said in an interview that he would give anyone an appointment in three days.

After much debate on Saturday, the grannies announced that they would march to his home on Sunday without an appointment.

On Sunday, police denied permission for the march, following which community leaders and lawyers intervened to prevent any confrontation.

On Monday, the Supreme Court is scheduled to examine replies to a plea to evict the vigil from GD Birla Marg, which has already become the longest running protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the allied matrix.

After reaching the barricades, three elderly women — Sarvari, Mehrunissa and Bilkis — walked ahead to meet DCP (southeast) R.P. Meena. Local leader Ashu Khan and lawyer Firoz Iqbal Khan accompanied the protesters.

They were told they would be informed if and when the home ministry grants them an appointment.

Shaheen Kausar, an organiser, said: “The protesters want to go together to meet the home minister, and not send a delegation of a few. The overwhelming majority of us felt that since the minister has spoken about meeting us — even if he said so to the media, and not from an official platform, we should also respond. As permission for everybody marching to meet him was not granted, we have replied through the press today that hundreds have turned up to meet him, yet we respect the law and won’t force our way through.”

Sources said Ashu Khan, accused by the police of rioting outside Jamia Millia Islamia in December, was also included to ensure that his supporters did not turn restive and attempt to confront the police who were deployed heavily.

The march was joined by several supporters of the Bhim Army who had another rally in the capital on Sunday. Several agitators from Uttar Pradesh were stopped at the state boundary, a couple of kilometres away from Shaheen Bagh.

“For us the priority now is the SC hearing tomorrow (Monday) and we are prepared for the worst. The discussions on whether a delegation will go, or everyone will go together, will be taken by the women in the days to come,” lawyer Firoz Khan said.