A tale of two protests in the heart of Delhi

Peace seekers detained in minutes before protest begins, while it took two days to arrest hate rally organisers, scores of whom still roam free

ProtestImage Courtesy:Twitter

It took Delhi Police minutes to swing into action at Jantar Mantar on August 10, slapping section 144 of the CrPc that prohibits gatherings of four or more people. They then took just a few more minutes to drag the protesters into a waiting bus. These included scores of journalists, students, peace activists who had announced a peace protest.

This was an unusual protest, that grew organically after a call given by journalist Shyam Meera Singh who told SabrangIndia before the protest that he could not sit silent after witnessing the hate speech spewed at the rally called by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwini Upadhyay  who is also a Supreme Court lawyer. 

It was a conversation with other reporters on the matter that threw up the idea. Someone had casually asked why there was no protest in Delhi even after such a call to violence against Muslims had been given. “Who will protest,” asked another. It was then Singh spoke up. ”I said we must protest,” he told us. The anti-Muslim hate speech and literal call to genocide by a group at the at the Delhi rally on Sunday shook him. “It felt like someone entered your home and grabbed your mother by the collar… it felt like a personal attack… no more I said. This is an attack on democracy,” he said, getting ready to leave for Jantar Mantar and hoping that others who want to protest hate and protect democracy will join him.

The numbers did not matter here, the fact that citizens were rising as one against hate, and the hope that a genocide must be averted was the driving force. He shared the idea on social media and soon it grew and Protest_against_Hate started trending on Monday night. By Tuesday morning, scores had made up their mind to reach Jantar Mantar in the evening and stand up against hate speech.

However, just hours later he announced that the Delhi Police, which had somehow ‘missed’ the hate speech given under their gaze on Sunday, had stopped those protesting hate, and imposed Section 144 around Jantar Mantar. Shyam Meera Singh was detained along with many others.



The Police continued to detain protesters, even dragged some of them into a bus and took them away without disclosing the destination!


Kawalpreet Kaur, a political activist, lawyer and national Vice President at All India Students’ Association (AISA) told SabrangIndia that even the arrest of those who organised Sunday’s rally was an eyewash saying, “This has been going on with the support of the people in power, with the support of the police, and this arrest with sections which are so diluted which will not even stand on their own leg is not the answer. Imagine if it was a protest by farmers or another group?” She added that only six people have been identified. “It is not that the police were caught unawares. Police presence at Jantar Mantar is normal. They saw 3,000 people gathered there, they saw people chanting slogans that were open calls for killing,” said Kaur, adding that the police could have acted and stopped the hate speech in its tracks. Ironically the police acted and rounded up the peace activists and journalists on Tuesday evening.

She added that the Delhi Police had in fact also detained a group of students from Jamia Nagar who went to file an FIR against the hate speech at Ashwini Upadhyay’s rally. This was confirmed on social media by other activists.

AISA too had sent out an appeal to students and people of Delhi to join the protest against hate at Jantar Mantar. However this protest was a truly organic one even though brief, it made a massive point that the calls for peace can no longer be stifled. 

The protesters, who now included members of AISA and other student groups, as well as university teachers, and concerned citizens themselves shared videos and photos from inside the bus. They were taken to the Mandir Marg police station and detained.

The Protest Against Hate, it seems was not something Delhi police was going to allow to be conducted peacefully. The Police had not intervened when Hindutva groups were raising anti-muslim slogans at the same place at Jantar Mantar two days ago. No one had been detained from the site then, even though police had itself stated that the rally on Sunday did not even have police permission.

Those who were detained on Tuesday continued to share photos that showed that they were not easily intimidated at all. And that the call for peace was louder than ever.



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Anti-Muslim hate speech at Delhi rally calls for communal violence
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FIR against serial hate offender Ragini Tiwari, finally
Yati Narsingh And continues to spread hate
Gurugram Court denies bail to ‘Jamia Shooter’ in a Hate Speech case



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