'Fundamental right stops when someone's well-being is affected,' Bengaluru Police chief on imposing Sec 144
Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao announced on Wednesday night that Section 144 will be imposed in all parts of Bengaluru for the next three days. In fact, the Home Minister confirmed that Section 144 was being imposed in all districts of the state from 6 am on Thursday till midnight on December 21.
Justifying the decision in a press conference at his office, Bhaskar Rao said, "As many as 60 groups (both for and against) CAA had requested permission for protests on Thursday. We took a decision that both groups should not be allowed. Taking into consideration what's been happening in various parts of the country where protests and processions have resulted in violent actions, resulting in large scale law and order problems, including injury, death and police firing, buses being stoned and burnt, we do not want such a situation in Bengaluru."
He added that action will be taken on those who violate prohibitory orders under section 188 of the IPC. (Disobeying orders promulgated by a public servant).
When the Commissioner was asked whether such an order was against the fundamentals rights of citizens to protest, he said, "People have a fundamental right to protest but fundamental right stops when someone's wellbeing is affected. We have taken this decision to ensure normal Bengaluru runs peacefully."
He added, "I request Bengalureans to co-operate for the larger interest of maintaining peace. This is an international destination where people have come from parts of the country and world to study and do economic activities. Let these protests and processions not mar daily life which has a large bearing on economic activity."
The Commissioner also added, "I cannot allow law and order problems while protecting their right to protest. Even though protests so far were peaceful, we cannot wait till it turns violent".
Soon after the news about Section 144 broke, many people questioned if the Bengaluru police had reason to prove proximate danger. Supreme Court lawyer and author Gautam Bhatia posted this video explaining free speech and the use of Section 144.
More than sixty groups, most against the CAA and a few in support, had approached the police in Bengaluru intimating them of a protest. Police officials had also desisted students and citizens from carrying out protests earlier but a series of protests were held in Bengaluru for three consecutive days starting Sunday.
"There are several groups for the Act and several others against. If all the groups want to protest, it is not possible to have different routes for them," he added.
Fresh protests were planned for Thursday and Friday. At least two protests were planned in Bengaluru on Thursday and one on Friday. On Thursday, a protest was planned to be held at Town Hall at 11 am under the banner of ''Hum Bharat ke Log'', which is supported by NGOs, citizen groups and the major opposition parties, including the Congress and the NCP. Left-parties including CPI(M), CPI and CPI(ML) also planned to hold an agitation against NRC and CAA at Mysore Bank Circle at 11 am. On Friday, students from various colleges in Bengaluru plan to hold a second protest at 5 pm at Town Hall.
Police officials clarified that all permissions previously given to protest organisers are now revoked with the imposition of prohibitory orders under section 144.
"All those found violating the prohibitory orders will be charged under Section 188 of the IPC," Bhaskar Rao added.