What’s making the police nervous is not Anna Hazare’s agitation at Azad Maidan from December 27 to 29, but the India Against Corruption’s jail bharo call, which begins on December 30.
Police sources said on Thursday that the three-day Jail Bharo Andolan coincides with the New Year, which is a concern as majority of Mumbaiites head to south Mumbai to celebrate.
“The situation will become chaotic with thousands of revellers and protesters in and around Azad Maidan,” said a police intelligence official.
Another problem the police anticipate is the lack of adequate lock-ups. The police estimate that 15,000 to 20,000 people are likely to participate in the Andolan. “Even if we keep all lock-ups empty, it won’t be enough.”
The police may have to stop traffic into south Mumbai or reserve large venues such as a stadium to hold the arrested protesters, the officer said.
The tussle over permission to use Azad Maidan continued on Thursday. “For every morcha, conditions are laid down. If they fulfill the conditions, we will consider the IAC application,” said Rajnish Seth, joint commissioner of police (law and order), refusing to elaborate.
The bone of contention, sources said, is an NOC from the sports department, which the police want the IAC to furnish for using the space beyond the 12,000-sq metre designated space allotted for protests on Azad Maidan. “It is not our job to get permission,” said Preeti Menon of IAC.