Shaheen Bagh’s women have decided to walk 15km to Amit Shah’s residence on Sunday after discussions through Friday night on the home minister’s public statement that he would give an appointment to anyone who asks for it.
Ministry sources said they had not received any request for appointment. Shah, who was speaking at a media conclave on Friday, had said he would give the appointment “within three days” of a request.
“We will go at 2pm to put forth our demands,” Sarvari, 75, famous as one of the “Dadis of Shaheen Bagh”, said on Saturday. Asked if they had sought an appointment, she replied: “Beta hai woh hamara, milenge nahi kya?” (He is our son, won’t he meet us?)
Shah’s statement had come a day after the protesters, who have been asking the government to hear them out, unveiled a red teddy bear as a Valentine’s Day gift for Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the message: “When will you come?”
The Supreme Court is expected examine on Monday the replies of the Centre, Delhi government and Delhi police on a plea to clear the road where the women have held a sit-in for two months against the new citizenship matrix.
The BJP had made the protest at Shaheen Bagh the focus of its campaign for the Delhi Assembly election, seeking a mandate to evict the protesters. Shah himself, at a rally, had called for the voters to press the EVM button so hard that the current was felt in Shaheen Bagh.
“We went to the police station where they said there is no permission to march. We are all talking to each other now to decide what to do. Many are saying that we must just walk to the home minister’s house. But there are many of us who feel that our cause is just and we should follow the procedure of requesting for an appointment first,” Shaheen Kausar, one of the organisers, told The Telegraph.
Sources among the organisers said there were heated arguments but the majority of protesters agree that there should be some response to Shah’s offer.
A delegation from Shaheen Bagh had met Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal last month to demand a rollback of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Lawyer Firoz Iqbal Khan, who has been advising the protesters, told this paper: “Most of us know that the government is unwilling to accept that their law is unconstitutional and hence they should roll it back. However, most protesters feel that we should explore the option of talking to the government. Those who feel that we don’t need to talk were reduced to a minority. However, the outcome of the discussion has been the call to gather at the protest site and march.”
Ideally, they should seek an appointment first, but such decisions here are spontaneous.”