The Bombay High Court on Friday allowed the Bhim Army to hold a meeting of its workers at a venue close to the headquarters of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in Nagpur, PTI reported. The police had earlier denied permission for the gathering, citing law and order risks as the two organisations have opposing ideologies.
The Reshimbagh Ground, where the outfit wanted to hold its event on Saturday, is located in front of the RSS headquarters. Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad is scheduled to address the meeting. The outfit had moved the High Court’s Nagpur bench after being denied permission.
“Permission granted with conditions,” the bench said in its order on Friday. “It will be a workers’ meet only. It shall not be converted into a demonstration or protest...There should be no inflammatory speeches and the atmosphere should be peaceful. Besides, Chandrashekhar Azad should give an undertaking on the above conditions.”
The bench said any violation of the conditions would invite criminal action and contempt of court proceedings.
The court had on Tuesday issued notices to the Maharashtra government and the Nagpur police commissioner to respond to the Bhim Army’s petition. In its response, the police said the Bhim Army wanted to stage a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens at a location near the RSS headquarters.
“The organisation of the petitioner holds an ideology which is different, contrary and diverse to the ideology being professed by the RSS,” the police said in its affidavit.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11, offers a fast track to citizenship for non-Muslim undocumented immigrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims.
The National Register of Citizens is a proposed exercise to distinguish undocumented migrants from genuine Indian citizens. Critics of the CAA, NPR and NRC fear that the amended act along with the citizens’ register could be combined to disenfranchise millions of Muslims.
Azad has led protests against the Citizen Amendment Act and the proposed National Register of Citizens earlier too.