New Delhi: Some protesters in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh are being served show-cause notices to explain why they may not be required to execute personal bond of Rs 10,000 with one surety in the amount of the said sum, to ensure that they will keep peace for a period of one year.
Dozens of people — who are frequent faces of the round-the-clock indefinite sit-in at road number 13A, which connects Delhi with Noida in Uttar Pradesh and Faridabad in Haryana — have reportedly received notices issued by Surinder Jeet Kaur, special executive magistrate, South East district.
Interestingly, those who have attended police-public meetings to persuade the agitators to remove the road blockade and those who claim to be police informers and local BJP functionaries, too, have got the notice under Section 113 Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC).
The summon of information pertaining to a “probable breach of peace” issued to one Shahnawaz Khan alias Guddu, a resident of the neighbourhood, reads: “Whereas it has been made to appear to me by credible information that he created nuisance by shouting loudly and quarrelled with public over the issue of protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA) and creating nuisance (by) blocking road and disturb(ing) the peace in the area and public. You used filthy language and threatened them with dire consequences. There is serious tension between respondents and (the) public. There is every likelihood of disturbance of peace & public tranquility within the jurisdiction of this court.
Khan said he has always helped the police restore peace whenever any law and order situation has arisen in the locality. He claimed he is a local BJP activist, a member of the local peace committee and a ‘police mitra’ (civilian enrolled with a police station for prevention of crime, maintenance of law and order and for better communication with citizens). He also claimed to be an informer of the police.
“I am member of the local peace committee. I have good relations with the police administration. I help LIOs officials in gathering intelligence. I am also a BJP member and work for the party because of which residents don’t like me. Despite all this, the police are intimidating and harassing me. I am active in the protest just to ensure that it remains peaceful. Since my family takes part in the ‘dharna’, it is also one of the reasons that I have be present there,” he told Newsclick.
He claimed that he has no criminal record and is a bona fide resident of the locality where he has been living for the past 26 years.
Another recipient of the notice alleges that it is a pressure tactic being used by the police to make sure that those active in the protests fall in line.
“Whatever has been alleged in the notice is absurd and baseless- it is intended to make us fall in line. I have not done anything wrong. Instead, I have always co-operated with the police to ensure that the law and order situation is maintained. I have attended all the meetings that senior police officials of the district organised with civil society. In fact, we took a delegation of protesters to meet the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) so that a dialogue process can be initiated. It’s sad that despite making all these efforts, we are considered a threat to breach of peace and law and order. The police are now using a pressure tactic so that the responsible people of the locality withdraw themselves from the protest,” Md. Tasir Ahmad, who has also got the notice, told Newsclick.
Ahmad said will reply to the notice through his lawyer. “I am a ‘shanti doot’ (messenger of peace) and I have proved it,” he countered.
Asked why he was served notice when he was co-operating with the police, he explained he has “difference of opinion” with the police only on one point. “The administration wants road number 13A to be opened up for traffic, but keeping the safety and security of protesters in mind, I proposed an alternate (Jasola-Shaheen Bagh Police Station-Thokar Number 6-Kalindi Kunj route) for daily commuters who are inconvenienced because of the closure of the main road. I even assured them that us locals will manage the traffic and help vehicles pass smoothly, but the police are insisting on opening one carriage way of Road Number 13A — which is not possible. We have differences here, and this is why I have been targeted,” he alleged
Two women organisers of the protest have also been served the same notice. One of them is Shaheen Kausar who has been actively participating in the protest since day one.
Advocate Firoz Iqbal Khan, who is their lawyer, said these notices are being delivered personally. “It means they were in touch with the police for whatsoever reasons — whether they were siding with the police or the police were presuming that they are playing an important role in the protest. Since they refused to fall in line or failed to meet the police’s expectations, this is the natural fall out. If the police were presuming that they are the ones managing the protest,they should come here and inquire personally. This is a faceless, unorganised and unsystematic agitation predominantly led by women of different age groups. Yet, it survives. Therefore, it has become a bone of contention,” he added.
Asked what his next course of action would be, Khan said “We will counter it legally through our reply. We will seek the court to reveal the credible source of information, as has been claimed in the notice, and the content of the information based on which the special executive the magistrate has sought our presence before her. Once we are satisfied that the available material and the evidence really needs invoking the provisions to some extent, we will take appropriate legal steps,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Centre has said it is ready to talk to protestors at Shaheen Bagh in a “structured form”. Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said today that the government is ready to talk to the protesters at Shaheen Bagh to clear their doubts over the CAA, but that the dialogue should be in a “structured form”.
“Government is ready to talk to protestors of Shaheen Bagh but then it should be in a structured form and the Narendra Modi govt is ready to communicate with them and clear all their doubts they have against CAA,” he tweeted.
This is the first time a Union Minister has expressed willingness to communicate with the agitators who have been demonstrating for the past 48 days against the CAA, the National Population Register (NPR) and the proposed National Register of Indian Citizens (NRC).
At the same time however, he made it clear that Shaheen Bagh was not the place to hold talks. “What if someone goes there and is mistreated,” he questioned, while on a TV news channel.