BENGALURU: Bengaluru could soon have the tag of ‘Protest City’, adding to its numerous tags. The city has witnessed a record number of protests in a month ever witnessed in history.
A whopping 82 protests have been staged in Bengaluru since December 12 when the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee held the first anti-Citizens Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register for Citizenship (NRC) protest -- a figure which the City Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao says could well be more than the total number of similar protests held in New Delhi.
The alleged police brutality in Jamia Islamia University in Delhi on December 15 when the crackdown on anti-CAA/NRC protesters saw the police enter the campus and beat up and arrest students, saw a massive outage across India.
Since that day, the number of protests in Bengaluru shot up with as many as 20-odd requests to stage protests being received per day by the city police -- eight alone at City Police Commissioner’s office. Most of the requests were granted, according to senior police officials.
Prior to December 15, the number of protests (on issues other than CAA/NRC) in Bengaluru were merely two to four per week, but after that day the city police have been made to be on their toes with the number of requests and protests staged spiralling upwards.
Bengaluru Central Division under Deputy Commissioner of Police Chetan Singh Rathore witnessed the highest number of protests.
“Since December, I received 40 requests of which 35 were approved. The rest had to be rejected as it was during Section 144 which was imposed in the city (December 18 to 21).”
A majority of the protests have been held at Town Hall, which comes under Central Division, while Freedom Park which saw the second-largest number of protests comes under West Division. These two have been the key spots to stage protests in Bengaluru.
“Fortunately, Bengaluru has observed peaceful protests and we have informed the organisers that those violating rules would be charged under Criminal Procedure Code,” said Umesh Kumar, Additional Commissioner of Police (West).
Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao told TNIE: “It is tiring and exhausting, but we are constantly engaged with the organisers and laying down the ground rules. If they do not fall in line, then we will mean business. It is everybody’s democratic right to protest, but not in a way where it affects others. Currently, I have decentralised the operations and have CCTV cameras to monitor everything. Those who are violating rules and our trust, will face severe consequences. We are doing the job with a lot of patience.”
Rallies which include protesting in two or more divisions have to get permission from the Additional CP or Commissioner of Police himself.
At least 120 persons were detained and later released the same day during the section 144 imposition between December 18 and 21, but none after that.
“No protests were accepted during those three days and those who attempted to stage protests without permission were the ones detained,” Rathore said.