Dos and don'ts for protesters in Delhi

No placards, no group of more than five, no logic either


Danish Raza | November 9, 2011

After much persuasion, the assistant commissioner of police at the Parliament Street police station calmed down a little. “Do whatever you want... but do not put our jobs at risk," said the ACP, after gulping a glass of water and adjusting himself in his chair.

“Do the protest against increasing power tariffs or on any other issue. But remember two things: do not use placards and do not move in a group of more than five,” he clarified to 15-odd Delhiites who were marching to the residence of Vijay Kumar Malhotra, the leader of opposition in the Delhi assembly, via Parliament Street.

The protesters, including the members of various RWAs, were clueless about their future course of action after the unexpected hounding up by the Delhi police.

“You people don't understand. We are just following instructions. The reports of all such protests in this area go up to the ministry of home affairs,” explained the cop.

“But, sir, you can see that we are not creating any law and order problem. We are just going to the residence of the leader of opposition,” said one of those detained at the police station.

“I know, bhai saab, I know," pleaded the cop with folded hands. “I have my sympathies with you. But I am just following orders. You cannot have placards and cannot move in a group of more than five. You need to split the group and walk to Malhotra saab’s house just like you walk normally,” he explained.

“The same set of people, if they walk in a group of less than five, is not a problem... but more than five would be a problem? Is that what you are saying?" asked a surprised protester.

“Yes, precisely my point,” said the cop.

"But....?” the protester thought aloud as there was nothing much left to ask the cop. Or perhaps, this was time to throw a bouncer.

“OK...what if we paint slogans on our forehead and then walk? Will you still stop us?” asked the septuagenarian with the confidence that this one would make the cop go in a defensive mode.

“Sirjee, I am talking to you but that does not mean you will start teaching me. I have other matters to look into," said the ACP again raising his tempo.

After spending around 40 minutes in the police station, the protesters were allowed to leave only after they gave the undertaking to the ACP- no placards and no group of more than five.

As a witness to this unreasonable altercation, I learnt the thumb rule of holding a protest in Delhi: no placards and no group of more than five.

Add the sixth guy, throw in a placard and the national capital will get a law and order problem.



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