Protests at Jantar Mantar banned: How will it affect Delhi?
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned protests at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi on grounds that it was causing environmental problems. This did not go down too well with the social activists, environmentalists, farmers, army veterans, followers of controversial godmen among others who feel that the government is trying to curb dissent and choke democratic expression. Why is Jantar Mantar important for protesters? Know more!
Jantar Mantar, named after a nearby astronomical observatory built by Jaipur's Maharajah Sawaii Jai Singh II, emerged as the protest square due to its proximity to Parliament, North Block, South Block and a number of ministries and good connectivity with all parts of the city. It has loudspeakers, public address systems and temporary structures which give protesters the opportunity to air their grievances.
Various protests are held at Jantar Mantar. TN farmers have been camping for about three months asking government to address the issue of loan waivers and drought. In September, MGNREGA workers had gathered to express their dissatisfaction regarding late payments and lack of employment opportunities. Last week, BHU students congregated to demand an audience with the PM to discuss violence on campus.
Jantar Mantar has also witnessed some eccentric protests. A 45-year-old Jaipur woman has been on an indefinite strike since September as she wants to marry PM Narendra Modi and "take care of him." Akhil Bhartiya Joota Mar Andolan's architect Manchhindra Nath feels beating the corrupt with shoes is the way to fight injustice and claims to have "helped over 100 people get justice."
Justice RS Rathore-headed bench issued an order that stopped all protests at Jantar Mantar on environmental grounds. The order stated that Jantar Mantar's environmental conditions related to "noise pollution, cleanliness, management of waste and public health" had deteriorated to a great extent. They ordered the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) to remove temporary structures and move protesters to another site at Ramlila maidan.
Protests in Delhi shifted from Rajpath to Jantar Mantar in the 1990s after a demonstration by farmers brought the capital to a halt. The NGT order has prompted another shift to Ramlila Maidan. However, protesters say it doesn't have "shade, water, food facilities, urinals" like Jantar Mantar. Moreover, it is farther from power centres. How the change will shape protests remains to be seen.