You can protest all you like at Jantar Mantar, but don’t think of camping there any more.
Around 5 a.m. on Thursday, policemen swooped down to dismantle all the tents erected along the pavements at Delhi’s unofficial dissent centre — where every group of rebels with a cause has been gathering to air its grouse since the early 1990s, when the earlier such venue — the Boat Club Grounds — was ruled out of bounds for them.
“We took most of them to the railway station and asked them to leave,” said a senior police officer.
Police will henceforth allow only “temporary” protesters. “We are not against people protesting. It is their democratic right. But they will only be allowed to protest during the day. No pitching tents and staying overnight,” said the officer.
“We also wanted to rid the area of dalals masquerading as protesters,” he added.
One such, police claim, was the duo of Dilhara Begun and Sikander Khan who reportedly ran a consultancy of sorts. “They would beguile newcomers among protesters into buying provisions from them. They even rented out blankets. They helped protesters prepare petitions and charged them,” the officer said.
But 12 hours after they had been shooed away, HT found the couple back at the same site. They denied all the police allegations.