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Mumbai Police clamping down on anti-CAA protests?

Sabrangindia 02 Jan 2020

jashne Ekta

Police deny permission for holding Jashn-e-Ekta on New Year’s Eve. Also raise concern about protest by women and transgender people under CrPC section 149.

On New Year’s Eve activists and performers were all set to come together in Mumbai to hold a concert titled Unity Rocks: Jashn-e-Ekta. The pro-democracy event was in the words of the organisers a “cultural gathering to celebrate peace, unity and secularism”. But the Mumbai Police did not grant permission for the event that was to take place at Carter Road.

According to the organisers, “Different excuses were given at different stages, including bandobast for new years and Bhima Koregaon event. The organising team was asked to remove every reference of protest on Citizenship Amendment Act from the event and not use any banners/ materials indicating the same. After involvement of the commissioner of police, the organisers were informed that they want to scrutinise the content and line up and had a problem with inclusion of two artist bands - Yalgaar and Samta Kala Manch. We were also asked to cut the time from 4 hours to 2 hours and produce censor board certificates.”

This is a clear clampdown on people’s right to protest peacefully. In asking organisers to remove references to CAA, police also appear to be overstepping their mandate. But, what is truly bizarre is the demand for censor board certificates given how public performances by any band our troupe do not require certification from the censor board!

Also, both, Yalgaar (of Muktiwadi Sangathan Maharashtra) and Samta Kala Manch, are groups that are known for being rooted in folk and subaltern cultures, using their music as a tool for empowerment. This clampdown can therefore be seen as an attempt to silence dissent by subaltern communities, and therefore as an act of oppression. Defending their choice of performers, the organisers say, “Yalgaar is well known for its soulful music inspired by folk music and celebrating culture from working class communities across Maharashtra, and raises important questions of caste inequities, dalit rights and breaks caste barriers through its music. Samta Kala Manch sings powerful songs for the rights of the oppressed and marginalised sections of society, and for caste annihilation and elimination of inequality based on class, caste, religion and any other identity. Through their conscious music, both artists uphold constitutional values and democratic rights and follow the tradition of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Savitribai Phule, Mahatma Phule and other leaders and freedom fighters who have advocated equality and justice.”

But the Mumbai police did not stop there. When a group of organisations working in the field of women’s rights and transgender empowerment wanted to hold a peaceful demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on January 3, the birth anniversary, the police responded by raising concerns under section 149 of the CrPC. This section says, “Every police officer may interpose for the purpose of preventing, and shall, to the best of his ability, prevent, the commission of any cognizable offence.” The application of this section allows for tremendous leeway on account of how vague it is in the present context.

The police’s response may be viewed here:

But now to be out-maneuvered by the crafty machinations of the Mumbai Police, the organisers, Sandhya Gokhale of Forum Against Oppression of Women, and Lara Jesani of Hum Bharat Ke Log, have responded to this with their own letter stating, “We have perused the contents of your letter/notice dated 1st Jan 2020 under section 149 of CRPC 1973, in response to our subject letter.

In light of the contents of your letter, which do not deny permission to hold the peaceful protest as intimated by us, we presume that there is no objection to us going ahead with the protest. This is to clarify that there is no question that any anti-national, communal or unlawful content will be used in this peaceful protest by us which we are holding in accordance with our constitutional rights. However, if any outsiders or troublemakers try to create problems, the same is not our responsibility. Needless to state, that if any unlawful activity takes place at the hands of such outsiders or troublemakers, police are required to take any appropriate action against them as per law. We trust you will cooperate with us in this regard.”    

Mumbai Police clamping down on anti-CAA protests?

jashne Ekta

Police deny permission for holding Jashn-e-Ekta on New Year’s Eve. Also raise concern about protest by women and transgender people under CrPC section 149.

On New Year’s Eve activists and performers were all set to come together in Mumbai to hold a concert titled Unity Rocks: Jashn-e-Ekta. The pro-democracy event was in the words of the organisers a “cultural gathering to celebrate peace, unity and secularism”. But the Mumbai Police did not grant permission for the event that was to take place at Carter Road.

According to the organisers, “Different excuses were given at different stages, including bandobast for new years and Bhima Koregaon event. The organising team was asked to remove every reference of protest on Citizenship Amendment Act from the event and not use any banners/ materials indicating the same. After involvement of the commissioner of police, the organisers were informed that they want to scrutinise the content and line up and had a problem with inclusion of two artist bands - Yalgaar and Samta Kala Manch. We were also asked to cut the time from 4 hours to 2 hours and produce censor board certificates.”

This is a clear clampdown on people’s right to protest peacefully. In asking organisers to remove references to CAA, police also appear to be overstepping their mandate. But, what is truly bizarre is the demand for censor board certificates given how public performances by any band our troupe do not require certification from the censor board!

Also, both, Yalgaar (of Muktiwadi Sangathan Maharashtra) and Samta Kala Manch, are groups that are known for being rooted in folk and subaltern cultures, using their music as a tool for empowerment. This clampdown can therefore be seen as an attempt to silence dissent by subaltern communities, and therefore as an act of oppression. Defending their choice of performers, the organisers say, “Yalgaar is well known for its soulful music inspired by folk music and celebrating culture from working class communities across Maharashtra, and raises important questions of caste inequities, dalit rights and breaks caste barriers through its music. Samta Kala Manch sings powerful songs for the rights of the oppressed and marginalised sections of society, and for caste annihilation and elimination of inequality based on class, caste, religion and any other identity. Through their conscious music, both artists uphold constitutional values and democratic rights and follow the tradition of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, Savitribai Phule, Mahatma Phule and other leaders and freedom fighters who have advocated equality and justice.”

But the Mumbai police did not stop there. When a group of organisations working in the field of women’s rights and transgender empowerment wanted to hold a peaceful demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on January 3, the birth anniversary, the police responded by raising concerns under section 149 of the CrPC. This section says, “Every police officer may interpose for the purpose of preventing, and shall, to the best of his ability, prevent, the commission of any cognizable offence.” The application of this section allows for tremendous leeway on account of how vague it is in the present context.

The police’s response may be viewed here:

But now to be out-maneuvered by the crafty machinations of the Mumbai Police, the organisers, Sandhya Gokhale of Forum Against Oppression of Women, and Lara Jesani of Hum Bharat Ke Log, have responded to this with their own letter stating, “We have perused the contents of your letter/notice dated 1st Jan 2020 under section 149 of CRPC 1973, in response to our subject letter.

In light of the contents of your letter, which do not deny permission to hold the peaceful protest as intimated by us, we presume that there is no objection to us going ahead with the protest. This is to clarify that there is no question that any anti-national, communal or unlawful content will be used in this peaceful protest by us which we are holding in accordance with our constitutional rights. However, if any outsiders or troublemakers try to create problems, the same is not our responsibility. Needless to state, that if any unlawful activity takes place at the hands of such outsiders or troublemakers, police are required to take any appropriate action against them as per law. We trust you will cooperate with us in this regard.”    

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