VIJAYWADA: Uncertainty over the proposed silent protest by netizens, demanding special category status to the State, at the RK Beach in Visakhapatnam on Republic Day heightened Tuesday with State police chief N Sambasiva Rao issuing a veiled warning to people, particularly the youth, “to understand the implications” of taking part in events based on rumours and clarified that permission was neither sought nor given for the demonstration.
The Visakhapatnam police went a step further and made it clear that permission cannot be given at short notice even if the organisers approach them. The police are understandably not taking any chances given that the prestigious CII Partnership Summit is scheduled to be held in the city on Jan 27 and 28. They have already clamped down Section 144 of the CrPC prohibiting assembly of more than five persons.
The call for silent protests received wide support from various quarters in the social media, but arrangements for the same were nowhere to be seen at the RK Beach road on Tuesday.
But with Jana Sena chief and actor Pawan Kalyan egging on the netizens — by even releasing an album titled Desh Bachao — the DGP held a press conference and took pains to reason with the anonymous online protestors. “Who are the organisers and what are their intentions? Tweets or messages on social media lack credibility, unlike in print or electronic media where there is self-regulation. There is every chance of misinformation and mischief during such unorganized congregations. Meetings based on a rumor and intentional mischief can always lead to violent incidents and no one is there to be made accountable for. If some untoward incident happens like in Tamil Nadu, who should be blamed? It is our responsibility to maintain law and order," he asserted. Acknowledging that in a democracy, people have freedom of speech, he, however, added a caveat that it did not mean one can create law and order problem. Asked if anyone approached the police for permission, he replied none had sought permission.
Visakhapatnam district collector Pravin Kumar and city police commissioner T Yoganand too urged the youth and their parents not to participate in the protest that could defame the city, especially when events like the CII Partnership Summit were just ahead, and also cited security concerns on Republic Day. Soon after the DGP's presser, Pawan took to Twitter to insist that the government allow youth to hold a peaceful protest. “No one can deny their right in democracy. Youth protest is apolitical. It's citizen's right to protest when they were denied what they had been promised”, he tweeted.
Meanwhile, officials advised Andhra university authorities, college managements, and other educational institutions to persuade students to keep away from protests. The police have decided to use existing CCTV cameras on the beach road to keep a vigil on the movement of “undesirable elements” and all roads leading to it. Checkposts are also being set up to restrict public movement. While it is still not clear as to who would be participating in the protests, groups of students were seen distributing pamphlets in Visakhapatnam seeking public support.
Pawan Kalyan tweet
#APDemandsSpecialStatus AP Govt should allow youth for a peaceful protest,which they had planned. No one can deny their right in Democracy.— Pawan Kalyan (@PawanKalyan) January 24, 2017
AP Govt should allow youth for a peaceful protest, which they had planned. No one can deny their right in democracy. Youth Protest is apolitical. It's citizens right to protest when they were denied what they had been promised. If they don't allow it now, you are creating unrest in them.
DGP N Sambasiva Rao
In social media based congregations, no responsibility is owned... if some untoward incident happens like in Tamil Nadu, who is to blame? I would like to know who are the organisers. People should not take messages on social media at face value.. they should understand the implications of participating in such events
As per the SC guidelines, police permission is mandatory for any type of protests or meetings. Holding meetings or
protests without permission is illegal. We will take stringent action if anyone tries to disturb law and order following calls on social media. We are not against freedom of speech but we won't tolerate if it is misused to disrupt law and order