On Wednesday, hours before the Supreme Court-appointed interlocutors visited Shaheen Bagh in Delhi, a video surfaced from BJP IT Cell showing how human rights activist Teesta Setalvad was "tutoring" women protesters on what questions to ask the lawyers sent by the apex court.
After watching Teesta's advice on the video, one thing is clear: that the Shaheen Bagh movement is not spontaneous as is being claimed and that there are individuals and forces working behind the protesters.
The interlocutors, Sanjay Hegde and Sadhna Ramachandran, both lawyers, who came to listen to the protesters after keeping the media out, later left and promised to come again as they have been given a Sunday deadline. There was no breakthrough after the women protesters gave an emotional account of what they had gone through during their 66-day-long sit-in.
The mediators assured the protesters that the apex court had taken note of their right to protest but there are also rights of people who have to commute on this route, shopkeepers who have to reopen their shops, doctors who have to reach the hospital and students who have to go to schools.
Clearly, the protesters sitting in Shaheen Bagh are not so ignorant as to expect the two lawyers to initiate withdrawal of Citizenship Amendment Act and promise non-implementation of National Register of Citizens. The protesters know this very well that the two interlocutors have no powers to do so and that they have been sent only to explore if the road at Shaheen Bagh could be reopened.
These protesters also know this well that the CAA has nothing to do with Indian citizens and that it is not going to affect their citizenship in any manner. The protesters also know this fairly well that the process to compile National Register of Citizens has neither been initiated nor is there any such measure in the pipeline.
The question then arises: why are these protesters sitting on dharna for more than two months now? I feel the Shaheen Bagh protest is being projected as a symbol of agitation against the Modi government. There are political forces inimical to Prime Minister Modi who will not allow this protest to end tamely. They are creating a fear psychosis in the minds of Muslims and provoking them towards confrontation.
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