An organiser of the peaceful sit-in protest in Delhi's Shaheen Bagh has admitted planning to block the roads of the National Capital for an entire day, in an effort to catch the eye of the international media.
Exposing the 'organic' anti-CAA protests occurring in there, Republic TV on Sunday has revealed the 15-day operation carried out by ex-JNU student and Shaheen Bagh Coordination Committee chief, Sharjeel Imam from December 5 was to attract attention of Western media. Currently, Shaheen Bagh is witnessing many protests mainly led by Muslim women.
"We thought if we block roads for a day, it will be good. The profit behind that is that we will get international media's attention," Sharjeel Imam said on the sting tape. The protesters have sat on roads near the Jamia Millia Islamia University to demonstrate against the Ciizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens. The result – long traffic jams, often running for hours on key commute routes in Eastern Delhi towards Noida.
Last week, a plea in the Delhi High Court, which was dismissed, had sought removal of demonstrators at Shaheen Bagh in order to clear road blockages that are causing traffic congestions at the DND route. The letter, written by Tushar Sehdev and Raman Kalra, said the route from Delhi to UP, Delhi to Uttarakhand, Delhi to Noida hospitals, Ashram and Badarpur is unavailable due to this protest as the roads around Shaheen Bagh are blocked and vehicles are being diverted to the DND flyway.
Republic TV's investigation also revealed how the organisers mobilised people by way of distributing 10,000 to 15,000 pamphlets in many places of Delhi. "We met on Thursday – 5 December and decided to distribute pamphlets about CAA on Friday (December 6). We got at least 10,000 to 15,000 pamphlets published and at least 60-70 students from JNU. Different teams covered Old Delhi, Seelampur, Okhla, I myself went to Nizamuddin. That is how it all began," said Imam, explaining the origins of the protests.
According to a report published by OpIndia, Sharjeel Imam who is a Ph.D. scholar from JNU had allegedly discussed burning the constitution one day ahead of the Supreme Court verdict on the long-contested Ram Janmabhooomi-Babri Masjid dispute. Moreover, a video was posted by Facebook group ‘Muslim Students of JNU’ on 14 December 2019 - a day ahead of the Shaheen Bagh protests telling the crowds to block the roads of Delhi. He is seen instigating Muslims saying ' Don’t Muslims even have that much in them to shut down cities of north India?'
The protests began on December 14 where thousands of people, including women and children started protesting at Shaheen Bagh and nearby Jamia Millia Islamia to oppose the CAA and the NRC. While the Delhi High Court has refused to stay the protests inspite of claims that protestors have put barricades and heavy stones on the sides of the roads, the protests have continued with people still gathering and causing road blockages and traffic congestions. Inspite the Shaheen Bagh Coordination committee called off their part of the protests on January 2, citing politicizing of the protests, the protests against NRC and CAA continue with several inflammatory slogans being raised like 'Jinnah Wali Azadi'.