BJP workers were briefly detained at several places in Chhattisgarh on Monday during a state-wide ‘Jail Vro’ protest against the state government’s notification last month to allow protests, demonstrations and other public events.
The opposition BJP has claimed that the 19-point directives issued by the Bhupesh Baghel government violated the right of citizens to protest and termed the rules as ‘black law’.
BJP state unit president Vishnu Deo Sai, who led the protests in his home district of Yashpur, said his party had given the state government an ultimatum to withdraw the rule within 15 days but did not do so later.
“As the ruling Congress failed to deliver on its promise to hold assembly elections, the state has witnessed a movement by various trade unions, contract government employees, etc. A frightened and nervous government, therefore, has issued a mini-state of emergency by issuing such strict guidelines to suppress the movement, “Sai complained.
More than 70,000 activists and leaders have been arrested across the state as part of the protests, the BJP claimed, while administration officials said 500 officials had been detained in Raipur and the number in other districts stood at 500 to 1,300.
“Barricades were set up at various places to stop the protesters. About 500 BJP workers were formally arrested from various places under preventive measures and sent to the central jail premises and a government school here. They were later released unconditionally, “said a police official.
Opposition leader Dharmalal Kaushik took part in the protest in Bilaspur.
Meanwhile, Sushil Anand Shukla, head of the communications wing of the state Congress, said the rules, which the BJP has called undemocratic, were there when the saffron party was in power.
Last month, the state Home Department issued a circular to district collectors and superintendents of police instructing them to ensure prior permission for movement, dharna and other public programs, and to strictly adhere to other rules.
According to the notification, organizers wishing to hold a dharna, assembly, procession or public meeting will have to apply for permission in a prescribed format with details like nature of the event and its venue, number of people expected to attend, sound system. Will be used and information about the vehicles used by the participants and their location etc.
Organizers must also record video of the event and submit two copies of the recording to the Sub-Divisional Magistrate within two days.
Protesters must submit their names to authorities and ensure the availability of food, drinking water and medical assistance at the venue, the statement said.