Chennai city police have refused permission to civil society groups and political outfits for a protest against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act on Thursday. However, in addition to referring to a possible threat to law and order, the police have cited "false propaganda' for rejecting permission. This development comes even as Section 144 preventing assembly of groups has been imposed in Bengaluru. Nationwide protests against the Act are expected on Thursday.
According to a letter issued by Chennai city police Commissioner AK Viswanathan, permission for a protest at Valluvar Kottam in Chennai at 3 pm on Thursday was sought by Mohammed Ghouse of the Welfare Party.
"Your representation is not acceptable. On account of your false propaganda regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the law, there is a situation of conflict in maintenance of law and order. If permission is granted for the protest proposed on behalf of your group, anti-social elements would use this as an opportunity to infiltrate and create law and order problems. In addition to this, we have received credible information that there could be a disruption of public peace and damage to public property," the police reply said.
Speaking to TNM, CoP Vishwanathan confirmed that no group has been granted permission and that any group gathering to protest would be courting arrest. However, it is unclear how the police assumed false propaganda as one of the reasons to deny permission. Many rights groups have pointed out, meanwhile, that police permission is not necessary as freedom of assembly is a constitutional guarantee.
Civil society groups and political outfits in Chennai have planned a protest also condemning the police action in Delhi against students of the Jamia Millia Islamia University who were protesting against the new law. Protests have rocked the country over the past week even as internet shutdowns were clamped in Aligarh where students of the Aligarh Muslim University had taken to the streets against the Act. Parts of the northeast including Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh also had internet cut off after the backlash against the law.