Delhites protest against Shaheen Bagh sit-in

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New Delhi: Hundreds of people staged a demonstration on Sunday, barely 200 metres from the Shaheen Bagh protest site, demanding clearance of the road connecting Noida with Kalindi Kunj in southeast Delhi.

The protestors, mostly locals including women, raised slogans like ‘Jai Shri Ram’, ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Khali Karao Shaheen Baghwalo ko’, and said the stretch should be cleared at the earliest, as commuters were facing difficulties for over a month now.

They were joined by some fringe elements that raised slogans similar to that for which Union minister Anurag Thakur was banned from poll campaigning for 72 hours in the national capital.

The demonstration triggered tension at the protest site. On Saturday, a 25-year-old man fired two rounds in the air at Shaheen Bagh and was subsequently taken into custody by police. No one was injured in the incident.

Senior officers, including Joint Commissioner of Police (Southern Range) Devesh Srivastava and Deputy Commissioner of Police (Southeast) Chinmoy Biswal, were at the spot, monitoring the situation to ensure that no untoward incident took place. They talked to the protestors and asked them to maintain peace.

The protestors were stopped even before they could reach the barricades placed at the entry point to the stretch leading towards the venue where women are staging a protest for over a month now. Around 52 people were detained and taken to the Badarpur police station. They were released subsequently, police said.

Some organisations had given a public call to organise a protest demanding clearance of the road that has been blocked for over a month now due to the ongoing anti-CAA protest at Shaheen Bagh, a senior police official said. However, police did not grant permission for the demonstration and on Saturday, held talks with the organisers after which the protest was called off.

Biswal said hundreds of people, including locals were stopped at the barricades and not allowed to proceed towards the protest venue. “We requested them to disperse peacefully. They staged a demonstration for some time and dispersed later,” he said.

Rekha Devi, a resident of Jasola, said the anti-CAA protest has been causing inconvenience to the locals for over a month now. “They (anti-CAA protestors) have been sitting on protest for 50 days now. It is causing inconvenience to us. Our children cannot go to school because the roads are blocked,” she said.

Deepak Patel, another resident of Jasola, said he somehow manages to go to work after crossing the area every day. “With heavy barricading, police do not allow us to enter the protest site where women have been sitting for over a month. I somehow manage to go to work crossing the area. But since Saturday, there is strict checking and we were not allowed to pass through the stretch without showing an identity card,” he said.

Rekha Khanna, another protestor, said they want the road to be cleared at the earliest. “It’s been 50 days now. My husband works in Noida and my children also go to school using the same route. “We want the road to be cleared at the earliest. We came here to protest only for a day and were asked to disperse. But those protesting at Shaheen Bagh are not even asked to vacate the site. At least they should open one side of the road.” she said.

Adarsh Tewari, a resident of Madanpur Khadar, said he works in a private firm in Noida and uses the Kalindi Kunj stretch of road but due to the protest for over a month, he is forced to take an alternative route. “I end up reaching late for work. I am forced to take an alternative route. The protestors must open one side of the road at least and allow vehicular traffic,” he said.