While hearing the bail plea of Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, a Delhi court on Tuesday pulled up Delhi and Uttar Pradesh cops, asking why is it an offence to protest at religious places. The Tis Hazari court was hearing the bail plea of Azad in connection with violence during anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protest in Daryaganj area. Azad's outfit had called for a protest march from Jama Masjid to Jantar Mantar against the amended Citizenship Act on 20 December, without police permission. Other 15 people arrested in the case were granted bail by the court on 9 January.
Tis Hazari Sessions Judge Kamini Lau went on to question the grounds on which permission was denied, stating that it is not Paksitan. The judge said, "It is one's constitutional right to protest. People can carry out peaceful protests anywhere. Jama Masjid is not in Pakistan where we are not allowed to protest. And peaceful protests take place in Pakistan as well."
In his plea, the Bhim Army leader has claimed that police invoked "boilerplate" charges against him and arrested him "mechanically" without following the due process of law. Azad, currently in judicial custody, claimed he has been falsely implicated as the allegations levelled against him in the FIR were not only "ill-founded", also "improbable". The bail plea, filed through advocate Mehmood Pracha, alleged that no specific incriminating role has been attributed to Azad in the FIR, of which the contents were "vague" and based on "conjectures and surmises". It said he was at all times demonstrably making efforts to maintain peace.
The bail plea claimed that charging him with being a part of an unlawful assembly was "erroneous", as at no point of time during the alleged incident did the police authorities declare the peaceful protestors to be an unlawful assembly. "No motive has been attributed to the accused in the present FIR, and all charges have been added mechanically... Charging the accused with being a part of an unlawful assembly is erroneous, as at no point of time during the alleged incident did the police authorities declare, announce, or proclaim the peaceful protestors to be an unlawful assembly, and nor were any warnings issued or announced in this regard.
On December 20, Azqad's outfit had called for a protest against CAA in front of Jama Masjid. Though Azad was denied permission to protest, he was spotted holding up a copy of the Constitution with a photo of BR Ambedkar on it. He was immediately detained by the police, but escaped from their custody and returned to the protest venue. Later that night, Azad surrendered.
As the protest began, protesters started marching from the mosque to Jantar Mantar in central Delhi. However, they were stopped at Delhi Gate when the protest took a violent turn and the crowd refused to back down. A car allegedly set on fire outside Daryaganj police station. Policemen then used water cannons and to disperse the crowd, as per reports.