Following strong opposition from the Mumbai Police, the venue for Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union leader Kanhaiya Kumar's speech on Saturday had to be shifted.
Kumar, who recently delivered speeches at universities in Hyderabad and Nagpur, is expected to speak at an event organised by All India Youth Federation in Mumbai.
But according to the organisers of the event, the Mumbai police has been impervious to allow Kumar from addressing the rally, forcing them to shift the venue at the last hour.
Dhananjay Kangude, a member of the Revolutionary Youth Association, one of the 12 student organisations in charge of the event said, “After everything had been finalised and even the posters had been printed, the police pressurised the school management to cancel our hall booking.”
Kumar will now speak at a private trust-run Adarsh Vidyalaya in Tilak Nagar, after Janta Shikshan Sanstha, the venue previously booked backed out just two days before the event, claiming there were objections from the police.
“We have been struggling for so long to finalise a venue. Already, several big halls and auditoriums in the city had declined our proposal. When we managed to find a venue, it seemed like the government had given police officials the responsibility to create hurdles and not let us conduct the programme. It is an attack on our democratic right," said Kangude.
The police tried to create obstacles in everything, from the size of the venue to the traffic expected and much more. Finally, another school in Tilak Nagar was finalised, and the management also provided a No Objection Certificate as the police were demanding it. Even then, the police took almost an entire day to accept it. We had anyway decided that the programme would be conducted, irrespective of police support,” added Kangude.
Dismisisng any such interference, DCP Dhananjay Kulkarni, Mumbai Police spokesperson said, “A few people are spreading a lie that the police is opposing Kanhaiya Kumar’s programme. However, as per general procedure, organisers have to acquire NOC from the venue to conduct any programme. Once such NOC is acquired, police looks after security measures as required.”
The organisers say the event is about the need to defeat fascist forces and defend the republic. It is not about politicising the event.
Kanhaiya was arrested on sedition charges on 12 February after he addressed a rally and allegedly raised anti-national slogans at the death anniversary of Afzal Guru.
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