A group of activists who were "peacefully protesting" against the "ongoing attack" on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 by the Centre alleged that they were abruptly stopped by the Delhi Police.
The activists who organised under the 'NREGA Sangharsh Morcha', also accused the police of detaining several student protesters outside the Delhi University's Arts Faculty. A senior police officer said the university had approached the police over apprehensions that peace and tranquillity could be disturbed. He said the students and activists were later removed from the spot.
Delhi police abruptly stopped Jean Dreze, Richa Singh, Com. Somnath and students at Delhi University while conducting a program at DU Arts Faculty on the ongoing attack on NREGA by the central government. pic.twitter.com/7z84lHznT7— NREGA Sangharsh (@NREGA_Sangharsh) March 24, 2023
An activist associated with NREGA Sangharsh Morcha said several students were picked up during the peaceful gathering. “Many Delhi University (DU) students as well as an American student were detained and taken to the Maurice Nagar Cyber cell station for simply holding a discussion on the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), 2005 and the right to work. Several other activists were also detained when they went to the police station to support those who were detained,” Raj Shekhar said.
Taking to Twitter, the NREGA Sangarsh Morcha shared a series of tweets about the incident. In the video, police personnel were seen gathered around the students who were assembled to conduct the meeting. Few moments later, they were removed from the spot and many were taken in police vans.
“The Delhi police is silencing the right of peaceful protestors to hold public discussions on issues crucial for the poor of the nation. Let us resist this and protest harder,” the group tweeted.
"Do citizens not have the right to discuss a public issue in a public place? Why are students, activists, workers being detained for merely exercising their fundamental rights? This is an attack on the very idea of democracy," they further said.
Reacting to the incident, a senior police officer said no FIR has been registered in this regard. "When activists and students were trying to assemble, they were removed from the spot. Eleven people who had gathered were peacefully removed. Among these 11 people, two were women," he said. “No FIR has been registered in the matter,” he added.
The NREGA workers have been protesting for over a month at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi alleging irregularities with the National Mobile Monitoring System (NMMS) digital attendance system.
(With inputs from PTI)