Residents of Park View Residency and Mahindra Aura are in a state of shock after Gurgaon Police booked them for unruly behaviour and for stopping traffic as a form of protest about two weeks back. They were protesting against illegal encroachments and construction work adding to pollution in the area and leading to breathing problems for the citizens.
Now, the residents of high-rise buildings and residential colonies like Palam Vihar are wondering if holding peaceful protests can be such a crime.
Palam Vihar residents have been complaining of various respiratory illnesses due to construction work around their condominium and the state of the incomplete road outside their society. On October 20, to highlight this problem, residents gathered outside the building and held a demonstration, only to find that the police had booked them instead.
The residents had blocked the road after several pleas to the administration, the police and the union ministries had failed to evoke any positive response.
"We had just wanted to be heard. However, the police, rather than helping us, backstabbed residents of Park View Residency and Mahindra Aura. The police officials present were instructed to monitor the construction work and report any illegal encroachments to the concerned departments. What shocked us was the following day, when an FIR was lodged and severe charges brought against innocent residents who were demanding their right to breathe and to lead a healthy life,” said Rajnish Talwar, treasurer, RWA Park View Residency.
However, in this case, the police tell a different version.
Sandeep Khirwar, commissioner of police, told City Spidey that “blocking roads is not permitted and normally we do register cases when people block roads. An FIR is just a summary of allegations and is not the last word. If they are not guilty of certain charges, they will not be implicated.”
The residents, however, took the protest route only when nothing else worked, the residents said.
"SDM Bharat Bhushan Gogia arrived at the time of protest on October 20 and gave an assurance that issues would be resolved. The police also promised action but the FIR left us totally stunned. Where does one go when no one is listening to us?” asked Vikas Dhull, a member of the RWA.
However, sticking to his stand, Khirwar said, “You can have a peaceful protest or agitation in designated places, but yes, blocking of roads is illegal restraint and IPC sections 28, 341 and a lot more are applicable, so we registered a case.”
With the residents raising a hue and cry, state PWD minister Narbir Singh has assured residents that police will not visit them on this case in future.
But the residents are still wondering if protest as a right was compromised and defeated in the process.