Protests, rallies ‘banned’ at Bengaluru’s iconic Town Hall

Protests, rallies 'banned' at Bengaluru's iconic Town Hall

Bengaluru,  The city civic body has decided to ban holding protests, rallies and sit-in demonstrations by all and sundry at the iconic Town Hall in the city centre, ostensibly to prevent traffic jams and untoward incidents in its vicinity, an official said on Saturday.

“Our executive council has passed a resolution with the consent of all civic corporators to ban holding protests, demonstrations, rallies and public meetings around the Town Hall, as they were resulting in grid lock on a busy road facing it and disrupting public programmes and cultural events in it,” L. Suresh, senior official at the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, told IANS.

Built in 1935 by Mysore Maharaja Krishna Rajendra Wodeyar, the all-stone building in neo-classical style has a flight of steps leading to the entrance porch resting on six Tuscan columns. It is named after former Bangalore city municipality president K.P. Puttanna Chetty.

“Bengaluru city mayor Goutham Kumar has recommended to the city police commissioner not to grant permission to any organisation, group or political party to stage protests, demonstrations or rallies, as the space around the Town Hall gets blocked and the gathering spills onto the busy road, choking vehicular traffic,” said Suresh.

Massive protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), sit-in demonstrations and rallies by various organisations, including political parties, for other causes at the venue led to choc-a-bloc traffic and disrupted social and cultural events inside the Town Hall, which is owned by the city civic body.

The renovated Hall has a huge auditorium with two floors and a capacity to seat about 1,000 people inside its hallowed precincts.

“As the sprawling Freedom Park, 2 km away from Town Hall, has been earmarked for holding protests, demonstrations, rallies and public meetings, ban on staging them around the Town Hall will facilitate smooth vehicular traffic flow and ensure conduct of public events in its auditorium,” Suresh added.

However, BBMP opposition leader and Congress corporator Abdul Wajid said that his party was opposed to the blanket ban on protests at Town Hall, as to stage them at a public place was the democratic right of every aggrieved citizen.

“We are not party to the executive council resolution and will demand its withdrawal, as Town Hall is a popular and convenient venue for all events, including protests, demonstrations, rallies and public meetings in view of its central location, historical significance and symbolism,” Wajid told IANS.

Various organisations representing students, NGOs, women, social activists, workers and trade unions have also threatened to launch an agitation against the ban on protests at Town Hall, which is a public place and belongs to all citizens.