Recently, in the heart of Bangalore, citizens organized a peaceful march to express their opposition to the construction of a flyover along the Sankey road and to save the trees in the area.
However, the Sadashivanagar Police Station registered criminal cases against the 70 marchers under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, sparking outrage among civic groups. This action by the police demonstrates the hostility of the government towards the voices and rights of citizens.
Criminal cases sparks debate
In a protest on February 19, 2023, citizens marched peacefully along the footpath without causing any traffic obstruction.
Police have booked 70 citizens and summoned one for inquiry, claiming violations of multiple sections of the Indian Penal Code, including wrongful confinement, unlawful assembly, and obstruction of public way.
The protesters refute these charges, presenting video evidence to demonstrate the peaceful nature of their protest and the absence of any obstruction of public space or wrongful confinement.
Citizens and organizations submitted a letter to the police commissioner strongly objecting to the filing of criminal charges against peaceful protesters. They called the FIR arbitrary, baseless, and unfair, violating their constitutional rights to freedom of speech, expression, peaceful assembly, and life.
The letter, supported by 70 organizations, demanded that the charges be withdrawn and the case closed immediately, with an inquiry initiated into the abuse of law in the case.
The citizens emphasized their right to a sustainable future and a healthy city for their children. The police have transferred the case to the Halasuru police station for an unbiased view.
Activist denies police charges
On March 17, activist Avijit Michael, associated with the campaign organization Jhatkaa, received a notice from the police accusing him of various violations, including unlawful assembly, obstruction of public roads and improper confinement. This incident came to light when one of the participants in the police case received the tip.
Avijit denied the charges, saying he was part of a peaceful march to protect trees along Sankey Road. He further asserted that peaceful protest is his constitutional right in India, which is known as the Mother of Democracies and the nation of Mahatma Gandhi, a pioneer of peaceful, non-violent protest. Avijit expressed his disagreement with the charges brought against him, as he considers them unfounded.
Jhatkaa, the organization Avijit is associated with, provided videos taken during the silent march, which contradict police claims. The videos showed that none of the conditions mentioned in the IPC sections that Avijit was charged with were not met.
According to Jhatkaa, there was no obstruction of public roads, no illegal assembly, and no illegal confinement. Avijit and the other citizens were peacefully marching along the path of Sankey Road to raise awareness of the need to save trees.
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