Mumbai police have refused permission to farmers and workers from across Maharashtra to participate in a 'long march' from Shivaji Park to Azad Maidan on November 28.
The organisations were told last week by the police that it was not an appropriate time for a rally as the state was facing ‘disturbances’. The trade unions said they would file an appeal before the High Court against the denial of permission to hold the rally.
'Mobilisation at district level'
In view of the refusal by the police to hold the march in Mumbai, the groups have decided to organise rallies in every district in the state.
“There will be mobilisation at district level but plans for the long march is very much in the agenda. Since the High Court is on vacation we will approach the courts after it reopens,” said Vivek Monteiro of the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) who was present in the meeting with the police.
The organisations that approached the police were planning to gather members at Shivaji Park on the evening of November 27 and march to South Mumbai the next morning after spending the night at the ground. Between 80,000 to 1,00 000 people were expected to come to the city for the event.
The plans for the rally had been finalised at a meeting on October 15 in Pune and preparations for the event had been made since then. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, representing 13 farmers' associations, and 11 workers union were among the groups that had planned the protest to highlight problems like inflation, unemployment, milk prices, among other issues. They have demanded that the entire state should be declared as ‘drought-hit’.
'Denied rallies by Samajwadi Party & other groups'
The organisations, which met the Joint Commissioner of Police (law and order), Satya Narayan Chaudhari, were told that Shivaji Park could not be the venue for the rally in view of earlier High Court orders restricting political rallies at the ground. The organisations then asked for permission to march from Rani Baug, Byculla, to Azad Maidan, but that request was also denied. “It was mentioned in passing that permissions were also denied to rallies by Samajwadi Party and other groups,” said Monteiro.
Trade unions and social activists have criticised the police decision. Social activist Medha Patkar said, “We were told (by the police) that the atmosphere in the state is disturbed. But we are non-violent satyagrahis.” “Police have taken an unconstitutional decision by stopping us from protesting peacefully.”