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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Seek permission for all future events, police tell Gandhi Peace Foundation

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Delhi Police on Wednesday cancelled an event titled ‘Media Blackout and State Repression in Kashmir’ at the foundation citing ‘law and order’ concerns.
| Photo Credit: File Photo

Two days after an event related to Kashmir at the Gandhi Peace Foundation was cancelled by Delhi Police citing “law and order” concerns, sources said the police had asked the foundation to seek its permission for all future programmes.

The public meeting titled “Media Blackout and State Repression in Kashmir”, organised by several organisations under the banner “Campaign Against State Repression”, was scheduled at the central Delhi venue on Wednesday.

A senior officer said the foundation had been directed to seek permission from the traffic police as well. “If the guests’ list is large, then traffic in the area may have to be diverted. Moreover, the venue is in central Delhi, which sees a lot of VVIP movement,” said the officer.

Volunteers at the foundation said they never had to seek police permission to host events until now.

Speakers at Wednesday’s event included Delhi University professor Nandita Narain, retired judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court Hussain Masood, CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami, filmmaker Sanjay Kak, chairman of United Peace Alliance Mir Shahid Saleem and senior journalist Anil Chamadia.

Ms. Narain termed the cancellation of the event “outrageous”.

“Where would people have to go to exercise their right to free speech if they don’t have private spaces?” she said.

“We were informed on the day of the event [March 15] that it has to be cancelled,” she said, adding that the organisers had submitted the topic of the event to the foundation on February 28.

Ms. Narain said posters about the event were put up and speakers were approached publicly. “Nothing was hidden from the police,” she said.

Gandhi Peace Foundation secretary Kumar Prashant said police personnel were deployed and barricades were put up at the venue on Wednesday.

‘Don’t seek permission’

Earlier this month, the organisers of an event titled “Understanding Fascism in Present India Context” had to get approval from the High Court after the police denied them permission citing “law and order” concerns.

A volunteer at H.K.S. Surjeet Bhawan, where the event on fascism was organised, said as the building is not commercial, police permission is not needed to host events.

However, a senior manager at the India Habitat Centre said they seek police permission before every event.

‘Depends on situation’

Sources at the India International Centre said police permission is sought depending on the type of event. “If it’s a private event, we don’t seek police permission. But if it’s a discussion on a topic that could create law and order concerns, we alert the police,” the source said.

A senior officer said permission has to be sought for events held in private auditoriums. “We have a network of informants and other sources, based on which we decide whether an event could lead to law and order concerns,” he added.

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