Days after the Supreme Court pulled up the Delhi Police for allowing Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Cabinet colleagues to hold a dharna near Rail Bhawan, despite prohibitory orders being in place, police on Thursday issued advertisements welcoming all ‘protesters’ to Jantar Mantar and Ramlila Maidan.
In the ad, which has appeared in this paper (check e-paper, page 2), police have asked all those who want to hold protests to contact Deputy Commissioner of Police (New Delhi district) to get their venue assigned.
“Want to hold dharna/ protest. Upto 5000 persons. Welcome to Jantar Mantar,” reads the advertisement, which also has the DCP’s phone number displayed prominently.
According to Delhi Police, the ad was issued keeping in view the growing trend of holding dharnas in the capital. The ad clarifies that only up to 5,000 persons can protest at Jantar Mantar at a time. If the number is more than that, a second ad invites them to Ramlila Maidan. The phone number of the DCP (Central District) is displayed on the second advertisement (Check e-paper, page 3).
Police said on an average, the Parliament Street police station receives over 20 applications for holding protests at Jantar Mantar.
Police, however, can permit only a few protests here. But with this new trend of people taking to streets, police are now finding it difficult to accommodate these applicants.
“In many cases, where the gathering in more than 5,000, we ask them to go to Ramlila Maidan. The protesters, in most cases, do not listen to us and make it appear like we are trying to curb their fundamental right to protest. They do not understand that we can only allot a limited space as the law and order situation in the area cannot be compromised,” a police officer said.
“This ad has been issued to convey the message that we are not against anyone holding a protest, in fact, they are welcome, but a proper procedure needs to be followed,” Delhi Police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said.
Police said protests without permission would be viewed as an “encroachment”.
“We just hope that the people take this advertisement in the right spirit,” the officer said.