New Delhi, 7 February
The ongoing face-off between Delhi Police and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government entered a new phase when the Capital woke up to advertisements released by the police in several newspapers, including The Statesman, ‘inviting’ people to Jantar Mantar or Ramlila Maidan to hold protests or dharnas.
While the police maintained that the advertisements were released in a bid to maintain law and order in the city, sections of AAP and Delhi’ites feel that the police move ‘mocks’ people’s aspirations. The advertisements read, "Want to hold dharna/ protest. Upto 5000 persons. Welcome to Jantar Mantar". All those who want to hold dharna/protest have been asked to adhere to certain guidelines.
The advertisement clarifies that only up to 5,000 persons can protest at Jantar Mantar at a time. If the number is more than that, a second advertisement invites them to Ramlila Maidan where the number of protestors should not exceed 50,000.
AAP has not commented on the ad apart from stating that the government has many ‘important issues’ to deal with and does not have time to engage in ‘childplay’.
Manisha Singh, a supporter of the AAP, is of the belief that Delhi police after being ‘exposed’ is resorting to gimmicks. "Now that they have no argument left to defend their wrongdoing, they have decided to make fun of AAP".
However Delhi police has strongly denied such accusations. Deputy commissioner of police SBS Tyagi said, "Everyone has the right to protest but it should be at an appropriate place and time. When common masses are troubled because of traffic jams they complain to us, so to strike a balance between the protestors and common people this step had to be taken. This is not some kind of conspiracy against any political party but just a step to provide a safe and sound passage to the masses."
Another senior police official said, "Unfortunately the events of last month have given an impression that we are against people holding demonstrations which is not the case. This is a democratic country and anyone is welcome to protest, but a proper procedure needs to be followed."
At today’s ‘Auto Mahasabha’ Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal , again took a potshot at the police, alleging that they regularly ask for bribes from the auto drivers.
Recently Supreme Court had pulled up the Delhi Police for allowing Kejriwal and his cabinet colleagues to hold dharna outside Rail Bhavan, despite prohibitory orders being in place.