Bengaluru: While Congress president Rahul Gandhi interacted with retired HAL employees on Saturday, his choice of venue, Minsk Square, left Bengalureans fuming, as they are worried that few peaceful areas in the city, like the square and Cubbon Park, would soon turn into protest zones for political leaders and parties.
Mr Srinivas Alavilli, co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru, said, “When citizens want to organise peaceful gatherings, the police don’t give permission, citing disturbance to traffic. How could they give permission to a political event that inconvenienced the public today? Already, Freedom Park has been recognised as the place to protest. I wish the police applied the same rules to politicians as they do to ordinary citizens.”
Members of the Cubbon Park Walkers’ Association too protested. Explaining how permission was granted to the event in the Central Business District, a senior BBMP official said, “There are eight zones in the BBMP. Organisers of a function have to submit a requisition letter to the concerned Project Executive Engineer. After they pay a nominal sum through a DD in the name of BBMP Commissioner, permission is granted." He said that for such events, involving political heavyweights like Mr Gandhi, the concerned engineer will be under tremendous pressure from party local MLAs and leaders. "The engineer will only check if the organisers have remitted the fee and do not usually bother to look at other aspects. The BBMP will immediately pass on the burden to the police department (in this case DCP, Central Division) to arrange security, parking and traffic restrictions and diversions."
A senior police officer told Deccan Chronicle that since the BBMP is the authority to sanction or deny permission at public venues under its jurisdictions, the police department provided security following the permission letter that was forwarded to the police.
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