Scores of BJP workers were on Monday briefly detained in several places in Chhattisgarh during their statewide ‘jail bharo’ protest against a state government circular issued last month regarding permission for holding agitations, demonstrations and other public events.
The opposition BJP claimed the 19-point guidelines issued by the Bhupesh Baghel government violated the rights of citizens to stage protests and dubbed the norms as a ‘black law’.
BJP state unit president Vishnu Deo Sai, who led the protest in his home district Jashpur, said his party had given an ultimatum to the state government to withdraw the rules in 15 days but the latter had not done so.
“The state has been witnessing agitations by various employees associations, contractual government employees etc as the ruling Congress has failed to fulfill its Assembly poll promises. A scared and nervous government has, therefore, enforced a mini-Emergency by issuing such draconian guidelines to suppress agitations,” alleged Sai.
Over 70,000 workers and leaders courted arrest across the state as part of the protest, the BJP claimed, while officials from the administration said 500 functionaries were detained in Raipur and the figure stood at 500 to 1,300 in other districts.
“Barricades were placed at various spots to stop the protesters. Some 500 BJP workers were formally arrested from various places under preventive measures and sent to Central jail premises and a government school here. They were later released unconditionally,” a police official said.
Leader of Opposition Dharamlal Kaushik took part in the protest in Bilaspur.
Meanwhile, state Congress communication wing chief Sushil Anand Shukla said the rules, which the BJP has been called undemocratic, were in place when the saffron party was in power.
Last month, the state Home department had issued a circular to district collectors and superintendents of police directing them to ensure strict compliance of prior permission and other norms for holding agitations, dharnas and other public programmes.
According to the circular, organisers seeking to hold dharna, rallies, procession or public meetings, will have to apply for permission in a prescribed format that contains details like nature of the event and its place, number of people expected to attend, sound system to be used and information of the vehicles to be used by attendees and their location etc.
Organizers will also have to video record the event and submit two copies of the recordings to the Sub Divisional Magistrate within two days.
They will have to submit to authorities the names of the prominent people of the protest and also ensure availability of food, drinking water and medical aid at the venue, the circular had informed.