After the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) announced a protest outside the state secretariat Nabanna today, the state government decided to shut down the secretariat for two days. The government also cited the Supreme Court order yesterday on Shaheen Bagh protest justifying preventing the protest rally from taking place.
The youth wing of BJP had planned a mega protest outside Nabanna on various issues like deteriorating law and order situation, continued attack and murder of BJP leaders, lack of employment opportunities etc. But while BJYM workers had started to move towards the secretariat, a large force of West Bengal police surrounded it, preventing the protesters from reaching the protest site.
The state govt cited the SC order of Shaheen Bagh protests delivered yesterday, where the apex court had ruled that public places can’t be occupied indefinitely for protests. Although the court order was against the long-time occupation of a public place for protests, which happened in Shaheen Bagh where a vital road was blocked for several months, the West Bengal govt used that order to prevent the protest from taking place. It may be noted that the Trinamool Congress had supported the anti-CAA protests, Mamata Banerjee being one of the most opponents of the amendment.
Replying to a letter from state BJYM, the state home department said that they are duty bound to prevent the protest as per Supreme Court order. “You are probably aware that, only a few hours back, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has given a judgement in Civil Appeal No 3282/2020 wherein the Hon’ble Apex Court has held certain principles regarding protest and occupation of sites and public places and public ways. You will kindly appreciate that we are duty-bound to comply with the solemn order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India,” said the letter sent by the special secretary of the home department to the BJYM.
The Nabanna Chalo rally was announced by BJYM three days ago, and till yesterday the state government had not saying about preventing it, perhaps unable to find a valid reason to completely stop it. But then the Supreme Court order of Shaheen Bagh protests came as a gift for the Mamata Banerjee government, and they didn’t waste any time before writing the letter to the organisation last night.
The letter cited the SC order saying that the administration can determine how to remove protesters from public places, and accordingly the permission for the planned protests is denied. The home department also cited Coronavirus as a reason for not allowing the protests, as it can lead to spread of the infection.
In addition to this, the letter also informed that holiday has been declared for two days on Thursday and Friday at Nabanna for sanitisation of the premises due to the pandemic, and no employee will attend office during these two days.
With the Nabanna remaining shut, the gherao of the premises becomes fruitless as nobody is coming to office for the protesters to block. But BJYM has decided that they will go ahead with the planned protests, as cancelling the event will mean accepting defeat. Accordingly, protester rallies started from several places in Kolkata and Howrah today, which were blocked by police in several places. Police also used lathi charge to stop the rallies, injuring some protesters. Several leaders also have been arrested by police at several places.
According to reports, around 40000 policemen have deployed in the city to maintain law and order during the protests. A three-layer security ring has been established around Nabanna so that protesters can’t reach it. Police also removed stones and bricks kept near roadsides for construction. Barricades also have been put at important places in Kolkata and Howrah from security point of view.