One of the two earmarked protest sites in Delhi, the Ramlila Maidan, now lies desolate with no takers even with the need to pay done away with.
One of the two earmarked protest sites in Delhi, the Ramlila Maidan, now lies desolate with no takers even with the need to pay done away with. Following the ban on using Jantar Mantar as a protest site by the National Green Tribunal, the capital was left with no designated space to protest. According to an Indian Express report, it was then that the North Delhi Municipal Corporation gave one-acre ground of the Ramlila Maidan towards Kamla Market for holding demonstrations and protests in the city. However, since April 25 there have just been four protests at Ramlila Maidan even without the need to pay.
Ranbeer Singh, the Director Horticulture (North) said that there have been only four requests for protests at Ramlila Maidan since April 25. He added, “We got requests from four outfits in this period and their protests did not last for more than eight days.” While talking about how people are losing interest in the place in comparison to Jantar Mantar or Parliament Street, another official of the civic body said that there are many people who inquire about the process of holding free protests, but lose interest later as the area is “removed”.
It was back in October 2017, that the National Green Tribunal had banned Jantar Mantar as a protest site, however people continue to gather at Parliament street. In order to book the Ramlila Maidan for protest, people earlier had to pay a booking amount of Rs 50000 for a day, but since April this year, space has been carved out in the maidan for holding free protests. But now people have to pay a refundable security amount of Rs 5000 for the place before protesting now.
Yogendra Yadav, the founder of Swaraj India, while talking about this protest site said, “Jantar Mantar or Parliament Street is close to Parliament house and VIP homes. Leaders often came to the area to listen to protesters’ grievances. There was a feeling that you are being heard, unlike at Ramlila Maidan where there is no visibility. Jantar Mantar was also more accessible to the media.”
He added that earlier no permission was needed to gather at Jantar Mantar. He further said, “Delhi technically has no place to protest at the moment because there is no one in Ramlila Maidan to listen to you. The court, while saying that the protest site should be shifted, did not look at the viability of the alternate site.”