The Gujarat High Court on Monday instructed police to decide on an application seeking permission to conduct a public meeting against the new citizenship law on January 19 in accordance with the law.
The court was hearing a petition moved by city-based activists, Mudita Vidrohi and Mujahid Nafees. An application seeking permission for the protest scheduled for January 19, from Jamalpur darwaza to Khamasa, was submitted to police authorities on January 5.
On January 7, Nafees was called to the Gaekwad Haveli police station for recording his statement but it was not done. The petitioners approached the city police commissioner the next day but no procedure was done, following which the petitioners decided to move the HC, complaining about inaction by the authorities in granting them permission for a public meeting.
Following the court’s directions, the petition was withdrawn. Advocate of the petitioners, K R Koshti, said if permission is not granted, the petitioners can approach the court again.
“Many residents of Ahmedabad have an opinion on this amendment and they wish to express their dissent by in a peaceful manner. On 16.12.2019, many residents of the city gathered outside the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad to show solidarity against the violence at Jamia Millia Islamia University. At this protest, the police detained many of the protesters even before the demonstration could take place. Again on 17.12.2019, hundreds of residents gathered outside the Sabarmati Ashram and debated, discussed and expressed their views in a peaceful and non-violent manner. On this occasion, permission was sought for peaceful gathering and protest and the same was granted. No incidence of violence was reported. Again, on 19.12.2019 hundreds of residents of the city peacefully gathered near Rani Jhansi statue but at that time permission was not granted and the protesters were detained…,” the petition said.
Another petition, moved by Ahmedabad-based professors and a businessperson, challenging the continuous repetitive orders under Section 144 of CrPC and section 37 of the Gujarat Police Act in the city, has raised a similar contention.
The petitioners also alleged “double standards” in granting permission to pro-CAA rallies, while peaceful protests opposing CAA are not permitted. “On 16.12.2019 and on 19.12.2019, while the citizens protesting against the passing of CAA were detained on account of no permission… citizens who were supporting the passing of CAA gathered to ignite tension… No action was initiated (against) these persons supporting the passing of CAA despite no permission… there is a biased approach…”