New Delhi: With Home Minister Amit Shah stating that he was ready to meet those who were protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act to explain the Act to them and the Supreme Court making it clear that it was unhappy with the blocking of roads by anti-CAA protesters at Shaheen Bagh, sources in government are hoping that the protesters will vacate the place “one way or the other” in the coming week.
While speaking at an event in New Delhi on Thursday, Shah was reported to have said, “I want to say that they (the protesters) should ask for time from my office. Within three days I will give time. I have said anyone I will meet, but nobody wants to discuss. A discussion will have to be done on merits.”
On Monday, the Supreme Court, which is hearing a petition filed by a private citizen on removing the anti-CAA protesters squatting on the main road on Shaheen Bagh that connects Kalindi Kunj in Delhi and Noida in Uttar Pradesh, is expected to give its decision in the case. What the court is likely to decide can be gauged from its observation in the last hearing that took place on 10 February when it said that the protesters could not block public roads.
“We have conveyed to the protesters that we are ready for talks. The public is facing inconvenience for the last two months and we cannot let this go on indefinitely. The Supreme Court, too, has taken a serious view of this and hence we expect the protesters to end this squatting. If they do not, we will have no option but to remove them forcibly,” a government official told The Sunday Guardian.
The Sunday Guardian reached out to the protesters, who had first assembled at the site on 15 December, by messaging them on Twitter on their official accounts, seeking their future plan of action. However, no response was received until the time of the report going to the press.
However, on Saturday, there was news that the protesters would be marching towards Home Minister Amit Shah’s office. But there were also reports that sources in Ministry of Home Affairs had said that no meeting was scheduled to take place.
The visit of US President Donald Trump, who is expecting a “grand reception” on his arrival, too, is weighing on the minds of policymakers. A section in the government believes that the protesters are hurting India’s image and their “aggressiveness” is likely to increase in the coming days. President Trump will land in India on 24 February.
The periodic travel advisory issued by the US Department of State for every country, has classified visit to India as “exercise increased caution”. It was issued in March 2019 and has not been changed since then.
The BJP, which had made Shaheen Bagh one of its main political planks for the Delhi elections, has shown signs of rapprochement with the protesters, following the Delhi election results. Amit Shah also said that vitriolic statements given by some of his party leaders regarding Shaheen Bagh should not have been given.