Parallel marches in Delhi
Parallel marches will be held in Delhi on Thursday against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act although police have not given permission to any of the events.
December 19 commemorates the martyrdom of freedom fighters Ashfaqulla Khan and Ramprasad Bismil in 1927. On the same day in 1947, Mahatma Gandhi had persuaded 70,000 Meo Muslims not to migrate to Pakistan.
The National Action Against Citizenship Amendment — an umbrella organisation of more than 60 organisations — has announced a march from Red Fort to Shaheedi Park in central Delhi at 11.30am.
The Left Front and its mass organisations will organise their own march from Mandi House to Parliament at 12 noon. The CPI’s Indian People’s Theatre Association, however, is backing the NAACA march.
The Indian Youth Congress will organise a sit-in at Rajghat in central Delhi at 4pm against the police atrocities on students at Jamia Millia Islamia and other universities.
The police have not granted permission for any of the events, although they are likely to stop the NAACA march.
Although New Delhi district has prohibitory orders in place at all times, the police allow peaceful marches from Mandi House to Parliament Street if they do not coincide with other gatherings. The police also use their discretion in allowing protests at Rajghat, depending on the size of the crowd or the presence of dignitaries.
A CPM source said: “The Lal Qila march will go through Darayaganj area, where the police are expected to stop itsince permission hasn’t been given in light of the tense situation there…. The Left parities had approached the organisers to merge the two marches on the 19th, but till last night the negotiations were not conclusive.”
He added: “Left groups will gather at Mandi House at 12 noon, as decided before. After a short public meeting, explaining the scenario and the context and after considering the situation on the ground at that particular moment — whether the Lal Qila march is passing through or not — we will march to Shaheedi Park and join the Lal Qila march at the destination venue. In case the Lal Qila march is discontinued, people at Mandi House will continue to march on the route earlier decided.”
The CPIML-Liberation’s All India Students Association is part of the NAACA march. A party source said the disagreement with the Left Front was over who gave they call to protest first. CPIML-Liberation leaders will be at both marches.
AISA leads the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union along with the SFI, the CPI’s All India Students Federation (AISF) and the SFI-splinter Democratic Students’ Federation (DSF). The DSF too will take part in the NAACA march. The SFI and the JNU Teachers’ Association will join the Left march. The JNU Students’ Union has extended support to both marches, and the AISF is yet to decide which one to join.
An Indian People’s Theatre Association source said: “It is difficult to change plans once arrangements of logistics are made. The optics of a march between historic venues is also a consideration.”
The National Alliance of People’s Movements is supporting both marches and has left it to individual members to decide which one to attend.
Shaheedi Park commemorates the erstwhile Hindustan Socialist Republican Association.
A source at Yogendra Yadav’s Swaraj India, which is coordinating the NAACA march, said they hoped the Left would join them.
“Even at Parliament Street the police don’t give permission and we have constantly faced this. We hope to be granted permission at Red Fort, when we start. We are in touch with the Left and we hope they will join us. No party banners are being used, and all individuals are welcome.”
Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee president Subhash Chopra said the party had not been contacted by the organisers of either march. An AAP source said although they had not been contacted either, the party would decide on Thursday on whether or not to participate in either march, depending on the developments at both venues in the morning.