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HomeDelhiBoat Club to Jantar Mantar: Delhi’s shrinking spaces for dissent

Boat Club to Jantar Mantar: Delhi’s shrinking spaces for dissent

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New Delhi, Oct 7 : Wednesday will be remembered as a red letter day in the nation’s history of protests when the Supreme Court said it cannot accept that an indeterminable number of people can assemble whenever they choose to protest, and cited the distinction between the manner of dissent against the colonisers and the expression of dissent in a democratic system.
“What must be kept in mind, however, is that the erstwhile mode and manner of dissent against colonial rule cannot be equated with dissent in a self-ruled democracy,” said the top court.
It was referring to the Shaheen Bagh blockade that occupied an active road of the national capital for more than a month protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act.
While many have breathed a sigh of relief at the apex court stepping in and bringing a semblance of balance between democracy and dissent, some fear the Capital’s protest culture may be at risk with shrinking space for protest in Delhi.
One of the Capital’s oldest spots for mid to large-level protests has been the iconic Ram Lila Maidan. From Jayaprakash Narayan’s anti-Indira Gandhi protests in the 1970s to the Anna Hazare-led anti-graft campaign during the UPA era, the sprawling and dusty ground saw some of the most eventful agitations in the national Capital.
However, over the years, getting a chance to protest in this Maidan has also become a tad tougher. The steep per day booking charge makes many smaller protesting groups opt out of this location.

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