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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Bengaluru: People allege ‘police brutality’ after anti-CAA protests at Town Hall

The group began reading the Indian Constitution when they were ushered out of the venue by the police citing 'no permission' given for this.

Written by Ralph Alex Arakal | Bengaluru | Updated: January 26, 2020 8:05:18 pm
Bengaluru-Town-Hall-Indian-Constitution A group of people had stayed back in Town Hall on Saturday to read and discuss the Constitution of India. (Express Photo/Ralph Alex Arakal)

A group of protesters in Bengaluru has alleged police brutality after their all-night Constitution-reading vigil was stalled within an hour on Saturday evening. Around 25 people had stayed back in front of Sir Puttana Chetty Town Hall in Bengaluru after a three-hour anti-CAA protest concluded with an attendance of nearly 2,000 people.

The group began reading the Indian Constitution when they were ushered out of the venue by the police citing ‘no permission’ given for the same.

“The organisers of the three-hour protest who approached us were given prior permission. However, the group that planned to stay at the venue till 10 pm was not granted the same as they failed to sign an undertaking to not breach the peace,” Chetan Singh Rathore, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Bengaluru Central) told Indianexpress.com

On the other hand, the group of people who assembled to read the Constitution accused the police of ‘conflicting’ their right to assemble peacefully for the same prior to observing Republic Day.

“A group of like-minded citizens, including myself, had got together at Town Hall premises for a reading session of the Indian Constitution. However, the police dragged one of us – while peacefully reading Article 19 (Freedom of Speech and Expression) – off the venue after which he(Senthil, a school teacher) was detained at SJ Park police station for one and a half hours,” Itisha, an Indian Air Force (IAF) veteran alleged.

“The police dragged me to the station as I was reading the Indian Constitution in front of Town Hall. I had joined the reading to show solidarity with my fellow sisterhood who had chosen to stay back after the protests to read the Constitution,” Senthil said after being released from the station on Saturday.

Further questioning police action, another person at the venue claimed that permission for Constitution-reading was sought from the DCP, two days prior to the event on January 22.

“We had requested the DCP for permission mentioning a maximum of 50 people would take part in reading and discussing the Indian Constituion in a meaningful way to observe Republic Day. However, the DCP asked us to sign an undertaking with a surety of Rs 1 lakh which we did, mentioning ‘subject to judicial review.’ This led to the DCP revoking the permission” another person said.

He further accused the police of filing charges against the applicant under section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) which “conflicts with right to peacefully assemble and read the Constitution.”

When contacted, a police officer from SJ Park police station confirmed a preventive action report (PAR) was filed against the applicant. “The PAR was filed under CrPC section 107 for assembling in the area even though permission was denied earlier. A detailed inquiry into what led to these actions is now underway,” the police officer said.

Bengaluru-Town-Hall-Indian-Constitution-SJ-Park Police officers try to vacate a group of people who gathered in front of Town Hall, Bengaluru, carrying copies of the Indian Constitution. Express Photo/Ralph Alex Arakal

However, the group under the banner ‘Citizens Upholding Constitution’ Sunday confirmed that the issue will be taken to court. “How can people reading the Constitution be accused of breaching the peace. Police dragging citizens from public places is something dreadful and we condemn this,” a member of the group said.

On Sunday, anti-CAA protests continued in the city under various banners including the DSS Joint Action Forum and SDPI. While the DSS-led march was held from City Railway Station to Freedom Park, the SDPI-led protests took place in Thanisandra Main Road.

Also read: Taking cue from Shaheen Bagh, women hold 24-hour protest at Frazer Town, Bengaluru

The all-women protest which began as a 24-hour event in Frazer Town on Thursday was later extended to 48 hours which concluded on Saturday evening, with the organisers claiming an attendance of more than 1000 women over the days.

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