Wednesday, January 15, 2020

‘Who says you can’t protest, have you read Constitution?’

“What is the problem with going to Jama Masjid? Where is the violence? Who says you cannot protest... have you read the Constitution? You are behaving as if Jama Masjid was Pakistan and even if it was Pakistan, you can go there and protest. Pakistan was a part of undivided India,”



Abhinav Garg | TNN |


 NEW DELHI: A Delhi court Tuesday tore into Delhi Police for failing to show evidence to back its claim that Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad indulged in violence during the anti-CAA protests in Daryaganj area last month.


Underlining that “it is one’s constitutional right to protest”, additional sessions judge Kamini Lau berated police for opposing the bail plea of Bhim Army chief Chandrasekhar Azad for staging a dharna at Jama Masjid.


“What is the problem with going to Jama Masjid? Where is the violence? Who says you cannot protest... have you read the Constitution? You are behaving as if Jama Masjid was Pakistan and even if it was Pakistan, you can go there and protest. Pakistan was a part of undivided India,” ASJ Lau remarked when police cited social media posts of the Bhim Army chief urging people to come to Jama Masjid for a dharna (sit-in protest).

“Inside Parliament, things which should have been said were not said and that is why people are out on the streets. We have full right to express our views but we cannot destroy our country. We cannot disintegrate it,” the court added.

The court’s acerbic comments came after the prosecutor opposed the bail plea claiming Azad gave inflammatory speeches at Jama Masjid, inciting the gathering to carry out violent protests in the area against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

Lau also asked the investigating officer in the case to put on record all the evidence which showed that Azad was giving “incriminatory” speeches at Jama Masjid, and any law which said that the gathering was unconstitutional.

During the hearing the judge again rapped the prosecution when it argued that permission must be taken to hold such protests.

“What permission? Even the Supreme Court has said repeated use of Section 144 (prohibition of gathering of five or more persons, holding of public meetings, and carrying of firearms) of the Indian Penal Code was an abuse of the law. I have seen many people and many such cases, where protests happened even outside Parliament. Many of them are chief ministers now. Azad is a budding politician, what is wrong with his protests?” the court demanded to know.

It also took a dim view of the admission by police that they only had footage from a drone camera but no other video or audio recording linking Azad to the incident, except statements of witnesses. Wondering if Delhi police is so backward that it has no tools to record, the court posted the matter for further hearing on Wednesday.

Advocate Mehmood Pracha, representing Azad, alleged that his client is suffering from polycythemia, a blood disorder, for which he was not given proper treatment by the Tihar Jail authorities till a magistrate court had directed them for the same.

“He was actually reading the Constitution. He said that CAA, NRC and NPR were against SC/STs. Most of them do not have even one inch of land in India. They will not be able to prove their citizenship,” Pracha submitted. The bail plea claimed that there was no evidence against the allegations made against Azad in the FIR and his arrest was illegal.-TOI


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