Gujarat MLA and Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani, farmers’ rights activist Akhil Gogoi, Jawaharlal Nehru University students Shehla Rashid and Umar Khalid, and Vinay Ratan Singh of the Bhim Army held a rally at New Delhi’s Parliament Street on Tuesday, despite the Delhi Police denying them permission, the Hindustan Times reported.

The Delhi Police on Monday cited orders from the National Green Tribunal to deny permission for the Yuva Hunkar Rally. “No permission granted so far by Delhi Police to hold proposed protest at Parliament Street in view of NGT orders,” the police said in a post on Twitter late on Monday. “Organisers have been constantly advised to go to alternate site which they are reluctant to accept.”

Lawyer Prashant Bhushan responded to the police’s tweet saying the NGT orders were for Jantar Mantar and not Parliament Street.

On Tuesday morning, Mevani warned the Bharatiya Janata Party, with a verse on Twitter: “Pack your bags, BJP, your rule is about to end; You’ve committed too many atrocities, the public is about to go berserk.”

By noon, several supporters had gathered at Parliament Street, while the police deployed 1,500 police and paramilitary personnel equipped with tear gas and 10 water cannons, NDTV reported. Soon after arriving, Mevani said that it was “unfortunate” that an elected representative was not allowed to speak, ANI reported.

“We are establishing a direct contact with the youth of the country through this,” JNU student leader Shehla Rashid said at the rally. “While youth leaders are being put in jail, the Uttar Pradesh government is wrapping up cases against its CM.”

The rally

The rally was organised to demand the release of Dalit rights activist and Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad and seek an end to atrocities against Dalits and minorities, the organisers said.

Azad is a key accused in the violence in Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur in May 2017, but was put in jail under the National Security Act, just a day after the court said the charges were politically motivated. Gogoi, an anti-corruption campaigner, is out on bail after the Gauhati High Court had quashed a detention order against him under the National Security Act.

Their other demands are access to jobs and education and an end to the attacks on university campuses.