The idea of protest in designated spaces is antithetical to the idea of democracy, JNU professor Nivedita Menon said at a press conference to discuss the right to protest, Thursday.
Swaraj India’s Yogendra Yadav, Magsaysay awardee and convener of the Safai Karamchari Andolan Bezwada Wilson, co-founder of the United Against Hate group Nadeem Khan, and author Arundhati Roy were also present.
Speaking about the recent Supreme Court judgement, which directed authorities to act against indefinite protests such as the one at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act, and said public spaces cannot be occupied indefinitely, Menon said, “To say protest in designated spaces is antithetical to the idea of democracy… That protests must be safely museumised is a parody of democracy and an extremely problematic interpretation by the Supreme Court of what protest means in a democracy and what the value of protest is.”
The October 7 SC judgement had said: “Democracy and dissent go hand in hand, but then the demonstrations expressing dissent have to be in designated places alone”.
Yadav said that getting permission to protest at a site like Parliament Street was nearly impossible. “How can the judiciary be oblivious to how things work?” he asked. Wilson, meanwhile, said he had a right to raise his voice as a citizen and this voice “should not be equated with dissent, but a right”.
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