Bengaluru: Describing the 3-day ban on staging protest marches or sit-in demonstrations (‘dharna’) against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) as draconian, newly-elected Congress MLA Rizwan Arshad from Bengaluru condemned the ruling BJP government for snatching away the citizens’ democratic right to dissent.
“As dissent is a democratic right of every citizen, the BJP government cannot prevent us from holding peaceful protests against the CAA. The city police have no right to ban staging sit-in demonstrations by the protesters,” Arshad told IANS here.
Arshad, 39, was on December 9 elected to the state legislative assembly from the prestigious Shivajinagar segment in the state capital where a bypoll was held on December 5 to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation and subsequent disqualification of former Congress rebel Roshan Baig.
“The law of the land empowers us to hold protests peacefully. It’s a democratic right provided in the Constitution. How can the police ban us from a peaceful protest march or demonstration against the CAA or NRC (National Registration of Citizenship), which are anti-national and anti-people?”, Arshad asked.
Admitting that the authorities could impose ban under section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code only in the event of trouble or in anticipation of a law and order problem in a specific area, Arshad said there was no law against holding peaceful protest and staging sit-in demonstrations as it was a democratic right of every citizen.
“The ban order is pre-emptive and a violation of our fundamental right to protest and express dissent in a democratic state. The police can arrest anyone who creates trouble or resorts to violence and not for staging a peaceful protest or leading a march against the CAA,” reiterated Arshad.
In a related development, Karnataka Congress member in the Rajya Sabha Rajiv Gowda filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Karnataka High Court against the ban order enforced by Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao for three days from Thursday to Saturday to thwart protests against the CAA.
“The High Court has admitted our PIL and posted it for hearing on Saturday. We have appealed to quash the ban order as it is against our right to protest and express dissent on the CAA and NRC,” Gowda told reporters here.
Gowda is a former professor at the renowned state-run Indian Institute of Bangalore (IIM-B), where students staged a protest against the CAA.