The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), has expressed serious concerns over the curbing of the right to protest in India by the Modi Government. The reaction came after the Delhi Police detained AAP functionaries from all over Delhi in an attempt to curb AAP’s protests in opposition of CBI summon issued to CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal. AAP National Secretary Shri Pankaj Gupta stated that India is a symbol of democracy all over the world, and the right to protest is an essential part of democracy. He added that the Modi Government is snatching away the right to protest from the people. In the evening, Delhi State Coordinator Gopal Rai will hold a meeting with AAP office bearers and workers, in which our strategy will be chalked out, he said. The AAP leaders will discuss the ongoing situation and plan the party’s next steps accordingly.
AAP Senior Leader Shri Jasmine Shah criticised the police for stationing outside the houses of AAP MLAs and councillors throughout the night and not allowing them to go out. There is a right to protest in a democracy, but in Delhi, it seems like the government is trying to suppress the voice of opposition, he said. CM Shri Arvind Kejriwal is being punished for raising his voice, he argued.
AAP National Secretary Shri Pankaj Gupta and the party’s senior leader Shri Jasmine Shah held a press conference on Sunday afternoon to condemn PM Narendra Modi, and the BJP for the police repression of the party’s peaceful protests and assembly against the CBI’s call for a questioning of their national convenor, Shri Arvind Kejriwal. AAP leaders and cabinet ministers from Delhi and Punjab were also arrested by the police, without explanation, while peacefully assembling outside the CGO Complex with their permission while waiting for Shri Arvind Kejriwal.
Shri Pankaj Gupta strongly condemned the CBI’s call for a questioning of their national convenor, Shri Arvind Kejriwal. He stated that the CBI’s actions were nothing but a diversionary tactic to divert attention from the main issues and that they have not found any concrete evidence to chargesheet Shri Manish Sisodia, who has been under investigation for several months.
He also expressed deep concern over the state of democracy in India, as peaceful protests by AAP’s workers have been met with force and repression. He expressed his disappointment that the right to peaceful protest, a fundamental tenet of democracy, is being denied to Indian citizens. He lamented that India, once the most glorious symbol of democracy in the world, is now suppressing the voices of its citizens.
Shri Pankaj Gupta said, “The AAP workers, who have always believed in peaceful protests, are being denied the right to express their dissent. In a shocking and blatant display of authoritarianism, AAP MLAs and councillors were illegally detained in their own homes today, while others who dared to leave have been prevented from doing so. Even AAP leaders who managed to assemble for peacefully protesting have been forcefully apprehended without any regard for their democratic rights. To make matters worse, AAP’s top leaders and ministers were merely waiting for Shri Arvind Kejriwal outside the CGI complex some time back has been suddenly taken away without any explanation or communication.”
He said, “This is a matter of grave concern and highlights the complete breakdown of democracy in our country. All institutions have been systematically dismantled, and a sinister plan has been hatched to silence any opposition. This is not how a democracy should function.”
He also highlighted the double standards at play, and said, “It is disconcerting to note that when the BJP holds a dharna, they are allowed to do so without any repercussions. However, when AAP raises its voice, its workers are caught, detained, and even sent to jail. This is an unacceptable double standard that must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.”
The Aam Aadmi Party has always stood firm in its commitment to improving the lives of the people of India, and they will not be deterred by any obstacles. The party, under the leadership of Shri Arvind Kejriwal. will continue to work tirelessly to ensure access to quality education, healthcare, basic amenities, and employment opportunities for all citizens.
He also mentioned that the party is not intimidated by the ongoing inquiry by the CBI. He further criticised the authorities for their failure to produce evidence in the case. and said that he is confident that the CBI will not find anything that implicates AAP leaders.
He announced that the party is taking immediate action in response to recent developments. AAP has scheduled a meeting for 5 PM on Sunday with all its leaders and workers, which will be led by senior leader Shri Gopal Rai. The aim of this meeting is to discuss how to navigate the challenges and chart and strategize about the way forward.
Senior AAP leader Shri Jasmine Shah called out the recent crackdown on the right to protest in India, stating, “The right to protest is a sacred right in any democracy.” He expressed his disappointment and outrage against the events that unfolded in Delhi on Sunday, where police officers allegedly barged into the homes of AAP ministers and councillors, preventing them from leaving their residences to attend peaceful protests. Furthermore, anyone who stepped out of their homes was also detained from various parts of Delhi.
Shri Jasmine Shah said, “The police’s behaviour near CGO Complex, Lodhi Road today, was especially troubling. Even cabinet ministers from both the Delhi and Punjab governments, as well as other senior AAP leaders, who were casually waiting there with permission from the police, were suddenly taken into custody by the police without any explanation or information about the charges against which they were being arrested. Instead, they simply loaded everyone who was waiting for Shri Arvind Kejriwal there, onto a bus and took them to an undisclosed location. This flagrant disregard for the rule of law and basic human rights is unacceptable in any democratic society, and it is imperative that those responsible for these actions be held accountable for their actions.”
He said, “Had the police informed us earlier that the leaders should assemble at a different location, we would have fully cooperated with them. However, the police granted the permission first and then chose to suddenly round up the party’s senior leaders without any provocation. This blatant show of hooliganism is a clear indication of the police’s disregard for the rule of law.” He criticised the authorities for their lack of transparency and accused them of engaging in hooliganism.
According to him, the right to protest is effectively dead in India now, and citizens are no longer allowed to raise their voices against anyone. He said, “It is with deep regret and a heavy heart that I declare today that the right to protest, a fundamental pillar of democracy, has been unequivocally decimated in India. The abhorrent and violent incidents that transpired today have left us with no choice but to acknowledge the grim reality that our country’s right to peaceful assembly and expression has been obliterated.”
Shri Jasmine Shah slammed the BJP-ruled centre for the selective targeting of AAP leaders and workers, while BJP leaders are allowed to regularly protest in Delhi against AAP without any consequences. “The ruling party can freely protest against its opposition, but anyone who dares to raise their voice against them is met with harsh consequences. This is a clear indication of a state of emergency,” he said.
He denounced the BJP for harassing and punishing Shri Arvind Kejriwal through summons by the CBI in order to effectively silence him for his outspokenness against BJP corruption and tactics over the past decade. In recent times, CM. Arvind Kejriwal has exposed the Modi government’s involvement in corruption and malpractices in the Delhi Assembly. “Shri Arvind Kejriwal boldly refused to delay or duck the summons, declaring that he has nothing to hide and is willing to face a hundred more if needed,” he said.
He accused the government of treating the common man as weak and said, “The government is preventing anyone from sitting on the corner of the road or protesting peacefully, effectively turning Delhi into a dictatorship like North Korea.” The AAP leader said that the party will discuss the situation and decide on a further strategy in its emergency meeting, which will be convened on Sunday evening.
In conclusion, Shri Jasmine Shah highlighted that the events of Sunday are a matter of great shame and that the country is seeing how democracy is being strangled.
In response to a media question, he strongly condemned the recent comments made by Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor (LG), Shri Vinai Kumar Saxena, alleging a “procedural lapse” in the conduct of the one-day session of the Delhi Assembly on Monday. Shri Jasmine Shah emphasised that the LG’s comments reflect a disturbing trend where constitutional officials, like governors and lieutenant governors, appointed by the BJP in non-BJP-ruled states, assume they are the kings of the land and seek to undermine the democratic processes and authority of elected governments.
Shri Jasmine Shah expressed his disappointment at the LG’s disregard for the constitutional principles that mandate the elected governments to decide when and how to conduct legislative sessions. Shri Jasmine Shah reiterated that the Delhi Vidhan Sabha, like all other legislative assemblies in the country, has been functioning in this manner since its inception. The BJP-appointed governors and LGs in non-BJP states must understand that their role is not that of owners but of constitutional officials who must respect democratic processes and work in harmony with the elected government.
He said that the LG’s comments also undermine the trust that the people of Delhi have placed in their elected representatives. He also drew parallels with the Governor of Punjab, who has displayed similar authoritarian tendencies in his role.
In response to questions from the media about the possibility that Shri Arvind Kejriwal may get detained in the case, AAP National Secretary Shri Pankaj Gupta expressed, “Anything is possible now.” He expressed the party’s readiness for that may come their way and assured that the CBI’s inquiry will not yield any evidence against them. The party’s leaders will hold discussions on these matters and make further plans and strategies.