Mumbai: The Mumbai Police have denied permission to the annual LGBT Pride Parade scheduled on February 1, at the August Kranti Maidan, apprehending that the parade would be used to drum up protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The Gamdevi Police, which had initially granted permission for the parade, sent a notice to the organisers on Wednesday, two days before the scheduled parade, after an anonymous message was circulated linking it to a protest against the CAA and the proposed NRC.
Since 2008, Mumbai has been hosting the Queer Azadi March. The Humsafar Trust, which is organising the event, had been granted permission by the police to take 15,000 people from August Kranti Maidan to Nana Chowk, Kennedy Bridge, Opera House and through Girgaum, back to the August Kranti Maidan.
According to reports, a WhatApp message was circulated within the community with a rainbow flag and the message stated: “Join the LGBTQIA community in upholding the values of the Constitution of India."
Further, the message asked people to "show up in big numbers to join the queer contingent that is against
the NRC CAA.’’ The assigned day was February one and the venue was August Kranti Maidan.
However, the message reached the police as well, after which the members of the trust were called and asked to explain. Shortly after, Gamdevi Police revoked the permission. "We were not at all protesting against the CAA or NRC. However, believing the message and cancelling our permission is injustice. This parade is not for the city, it is for the entire nation, many from outside the state have already arrived
in Mumbai," said Tinesh Chopade, advocacy manager, Humsafar Trust.
The police have also issued a notice to the organisers, stating, "A law and order situation may develop if the march goes ahead in such a situation. ...disobeying the order would result in offences being registered against the organisers for forming an assembly of five or more persons, which is prohibited between January 23 and February 6."
The organisers have been further cautioned that the damage to public property during such a march will result in their being booked under the Maharashtra Police Act. Mumbai Police spokesperson, deputy commissioner of police (operations) Pranaya Ashok, said, "We have not denied them permission, we have just conveyed our concern, they can conduct a march at Azad Maidan."
"We have not yet decided on Azad Maidan. On Thursday, we will conduct a meeting and then decide our next course of action. Meanwhile, some of our members will speak to politicians and we are still hopeful," added Chopade.