The owners of coaching centres and paying guest rooms in North Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar area have claimed that Delhi Police personnel met them and asked them to remain shut from December 24 to January 2, The Indian Express reported on Thursday. This came despite the police’s denial of issuing such an order.
Mukherjee Nagar is known as a hub for coaching centres and is mostly populated by students from different parts of the country, who come to prepare for civil services exams.
Ashok Shukla from Bharti Concept coaching centre told the newspaper that police personnel had gone to the centre. “Three constables had come to the centre and instructed us to close till January 2,” Shukla said. “When we asked for a reason, we were told it was orders from higher up.”
Some employees of GS World Coaching said that four police personnel visited them on December 23 and instructed them to shut down for the week. They said the instructions were verbal and not written.
Owners of paying guest accommodations also levelled similar allegations. “Police came to different PGs and asked us to do so [direct students residing there to leave their rooms],” an unidentified person running a PG told the newspaper. “A couple of personnel had come on Tuesday morning to our office and gave verbal directions.”
Tomar PG owner Mukesh Tomar said he approached the police to appeal against the order. “Students who live in my PG were putting pressure on me to keep it open because they needed to stay and study.” Tomar said. “I told them I will be fined, but they asked me to try and appeal against it. So I took some of them and went to the chowki twice. But we were told by personnel there that they have received orders from higher up.”
But Deputy Commissioner of Police for North West Delhi Vijayanta Arya denied all these claims. “No such visits have been made and if anyone claims so, they can visit the area SHO or me with the issue,” Arya said.
A video was posted on Twitter on Tuesday night showing a police official in the area asking students to leave. He said the law and order situation was week and told students to not spoil their career “if there is any gathering or nuisance”. Pictures of a notice pasted on the institutes in the Mukherjee Nagar area have also been shared widely.
But the Delhi Police on Wednesday claimed this was a fake order and registered a case against the messages. Assistant Sub Inspector Yograj of Mukherjee Nagar Police Station told Scroll.in that the order was “fake news”. “No such order has gone out from our end,” he said. “If the order came from us then it would have a signature on it.”
On Wednesday Arya had told The Indian Express that the video was doctored and the police are not even sure when it was shot.
In the video, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Model Town) Ajay Kumar is seen addressing the crowd, while Station House Officer of Mukherjee Nagar stands behind him. When asked specifically about these people, Arya told the newspaper that the police have been going to the area to “sensitise students” to not indulge in rumour mongering. “The content of the video which shows the two officers has been tampered with,” she claimed. “No such order has been passed by the police.”
The development came amid protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act across the country. There is widespread fear in the North East that populations defined as indigenous to the region would be culturally and physically overrun by migrants as a result of this law’s provisions. Elsewhere in India, the legislation has been opposed due to the religious criterion for citizenship.
The amended law aims to provide Indian citizenship to people from six persecuted minority religious communities in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, except Muslims, as long as people from these communities have entered India on or before December 31, 2014.