Mumbai: BMC frowns on police nod to use of tourists’ viewing gallery for protests

The BMC had in 2017 set up a viewing gallery where tourists could see and click pictures of heritage monuments like Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and BMC headquarters without any hindrance and danger.

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has taken exception to the Mumbai Police allowing protesters to use a viewing gallery meant for tourists to hold protests.

The BMC had in 2017 set up a viewing gallery where tourists could see and click pictures of heritage monuments like Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and BMC headquarters without any hindrance and danger.

However, since the last three months, the Azad Maidan police station has allowed some protesters, who come to Azad Maidan for various agitations, to hold protests at the gallery.

In the last two months, Samajwadi Party MLA Abu Asim Azmi and a group of BJP workers held demonstrations here. Two weeks ago, the Youth Congress held a demonstration on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday.

Bhushan Belanekar, senior inspector of Azad Maidan police station, said, “Some of the protests were held in the viewing gallery, but we still take protesters to the Azad Maidan corner which is designated for protests.”

Another officer said, “We want all the demonstrators to remain in one place, so when we take them to the viewers’ gallery, there is only one exit and entry point, so there is less scope for mischief by protesters,” he said.

“Why don’t the police understand that this is a gallery to view heritage structures? Will they allow the same thing opposite Mantralaya? There is a designated place for protests and the police must ensure that protests happen there,” said a BMC officer.

Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal told The Indian Express, “I will not let this place to be misused. I will send bouncers and stop it.”

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