The Gujarat chapter of the Association of Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) moved a petition in the Gujarat High Court (HC) last month after the Limbayat police station denied permission to hold public meeting “to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2020, the National Register of Citizen (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR)…” at a private property twice last month.
The petition further claims that while the petitioner is otherwise not required to seek any permission from the police as the public meeting is at a private place and usage of loudspeakers is allowed between six am and 10 pm, the association was constrained to obtain police permission after “…police inspector of Limbayat police station threatened the petitioners with shutting down of the public meeting…”
The petition has submitted that the police’s reasoning for rejection of their first application dated January 28, was on the ground of alleged stone pelting in the area of Limbayat during the nationwide strike against the CAA on January 29. The rejection had come on January 30. A second application for permission was moved on February 5, which too was rejected on February 8, citing the same ground of alleged stone-pelting.
ACPR comprises advocates and members of the civil society. Bharatiya Yuva Morcha, the second petitioner, is an affiliated wing of Bharat Mukti Morcha with youth and student members.
In a temporary tent put up on an open ground in Omnagar area, a large number of people, including women and children, are protesting since January 27. Majority of the women are housewives and belong to poor economic background.
The petition has also submitted that police stations under the jurisdiction of the Surat Police Commissioner has been denying permissions to hold public meetings and protests, particularly if the said meeting or protest is for withdrawal of CAA-NRC-NPR.
The petitioners sought that the HC quash and set aside the impugned letter of rejection of February 8 and pending hearing and disposal of the petition, to direct the respondent police authorities to not interfere, obstruct and create impediment in the public meeting and gathering at the Omnagar site, as interim relief. The court had issued notice on February 18, returnable Tuesday, but the matter was not taken up for hearing.
While issuing notice, the court had however not granted the interim relief “in view of the prevailing situation” where the assistant government pleader brought to the court’s notice that “an FIR was registered against 200 people in the Limbayat Police Station for rioting and assaulting of police”. The matter is now expected to be heard next on April 8.
Sources said that the there are over 700 residential houses in the Omnagar society and they have only one common open plot which is near the main road of Limbayat.
Talking to The Indian Express, former municipal councilor of Congress Akram Ansari said, “Women have been protesting peacefully since January 27. They haven’t caused any trouble as the protest is under way at a common open plot and with consent from all the residents.”
He further added, “There is a lot of pressure coming my way to call off the protest, but we are doing it for everybody and it will continue.”
Meanwhile, another group of women have also started staging a protest in Amlipura area in Rander for the last few days. As number of protesters grew, a tent has been put up by the organisers.
On Sunday, Rander police told the organisers to remove the “encroachment”. Rander police inspector L P Bodana said, “We have come to know that these women were protesting on an open ground in Amlipura area in Rander. We have told them to shift to a private place. We are not against such protest but they should not do it on a government land.
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