As demonstrators mark martyrdom of iconic freedom fighter by holding protests, many accuse BJP of doublespeak on Gandhi.
by Bilal Kuchay
New Delhi, India – Dozens of people, carrying placards and India‘s tricolour flags, formed a human chain near a Mughal-era gate in the capital, New Delhi, to mark the death anniversary of iconic freedom fighter, Mahatma Gandhi.
As more people on Thursday afternoon joined the chain and a call to observe silence in memory of Gandhi was issued by the organisers, a contingent of police stationed nearby rushed to the spot and detained them.
While the police officers were bundling detainees into buses parked there, another group of people carrying a large Indian flag stretching up to several metres emerged from the other side of the road.
Led by activist Yogendra Yadav and senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, the group chanted India’s national anthem and raised slogans.
“Bapu, we will fulfil your dream of a secular India,” they shouted. Gandhi is fondly referred to by many Indians as “Bapu” (father in Hindi).
‘Police resorting to excesses’
Within minutes, the new group of demonstrators was also detained. “These [policemen] are violating law and resorting to excesses,” Bhushan told reporters while he was whisked away.
Nand Kishore Shukla, a protester, said the police prevented them from remembering Bapu.
“We assembled here in memory of Gandhi, but police are not allowing us to make a human chain,” he told Al Jazeera.
Organisers said thousands of people were expected to participate in the human chain. They alleged police revoked permission at the last moment and detained people instead.