Ahmedabad City Police file affidavit, cite Shah-e-Alam clash as a precedent for not giving nod to protest

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Gujarat Police said that permission for the Shah-e-Alam protest was not given and subsequently, the protest turned violent, much contrary to claims of it being peaceful. (Photo: File)

In response to a petition at the Gujarat High Court (HC) by Ahmedabad-based activists challenging the police’s refusal to grant permission to protest against the new citizenship law, the police filed an affidavit on Thursday basing its primary argument for such rejection on the Shah-e-Alam clash between protesters and police.

The affidavit filed on behalf of the Ahmedabad City Police, who are one of the respondents, by Assistant Police Commissioner IJ Patel, states, “...when police authorities as experts having opined that there shall be a threat to maintenance of law and public order in hosting a crowd of 10,000 to protest against CAA, such expert opinion cannot be merely sought to be overruled upon assurance of two individuals.”

The affidavit further goes on to list out a “factual chronology” of events since the new citizenship law was given presidential assent. In one of the sub-point in this paragraph, the affidavit states, “Mass protests were lodged throughout the country many of which protests lead to violence.” Another point then states, “The state of Gujarat also witnessed violent protests prominent amongst which was held at Shah Alam. (sic)”

The affidavit states, “The protest at Shah Alam, much like the petitioners, was claimed to be a peaceful protest, for which permission was sought from the authorities.” The police goes on to state that permission for the Shah-e-Alam protest was not given and subsequently, the protest turned into “violence and rioting, much contrary to claims of it being peaceful,” while also highlighting that police officials who were working to ensure law and order at the time were “targeted and admonished.”

The police affidavit has also submitted that following the present petitioners’ application seeking permission to protest on January 19, statements were taken of residents, who then urged the authorities to not give permit to such events.

Further, drawing from the Shah-e-Alam protests, the police also said that the then protest which was purportedly organised by a Board with all-India presence (All India Ulema Board), and if they were unable to take accountability and control over the crowd, “the credentials of the petitioners as individuals cam certainly not be regarded as one inspiring confidence for hosting a crowd of 10,000.”

The petitioners - Mudita Vidrohi and Mujahid Nafees - in their petition before the HC had also alleged “double standards” in granting permission for protests, wherein political parties were being granted permission while civil society members and other civilians were not.

Denying this, the police affidavit states, “...permissions to such processions, if any given, are fact-based and depending upon the credentials of the hosts. A number of factors are considered including the preparedness of the hosts to hold such rallies.

Besides seeking quashing and setting aside of the police’s rejection order, the petitioners have also prayed that the rejection of their application seeking permission to protest, be declared unconstitutional.

According to the police, the petitioners had sought permission to host a gathering of 10,000 people from Jamalpur to Khamasa.

The petitioners are now expected to respond to the police affidavit by January 30.