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HomeIndiaTelangana HC's riders on RSS march: 'Far from religious places, no participant...

Telangana HC’s riders on RSS march: ‘Far from religious places, no participant with criminal record’

HC granted permission to RSS to hold a route march Sunday in the poll-bound state's communally-sensitive Bhainsa town. State authorities had earlier denied them permission.

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Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court Tuesday permitted the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to hold a march in the communally-sensitive Bhainsa town in the state’s Nirmal district, but with some conditions — it must not disturb the peace and quiet of the region, must maintain a distance of 300 metres from religious structures and must have people with no criminal record or with involvement in any criminal case as participants.

Sadula Krishnadas, a member of the RSS’s Bhainsa unit, had approached the court on 16 February after failing to get a response from state authorities on their application seeking permission for the march.

The Sangh plans to conduct a ‘path sanchalan’ (route march) and ‘sharirik pradarshan’ (physical performances) on 5 March in Bhainsa on the eve of ‘Nagara Sharirik Utsavam Programme’, said Krishnadas’ petition, a copy of which ThePrint has accessed. During this programme, RSS workers dress up in their uniform and march through the streets, coming full circle and concluding it with sharirik pradarshan at the same spot, it added.

This march comes around nine months ahead of assembly elections in Telangana where the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), RSS’ ideological protégé, has emerged as the principal challenger to the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS).

Citing how the police are preventing the RSS from exercising its fundamental rights, the petition also pointed to an earlier Madras High Court order which had granted relief to an RSS rally after the state government had denied it permission. The state authorities, it noted, must act in a manner to uphold citizens’ fundamental right to freedom of speech, expression and assembly, “regarded as the most sacrosanct and inviolable rights envisaged in our Constitution and the state must consider granting permission to peaceful rallies to uphold democracy”, it said.

The Tamil Nadu government had moved the Supreme Court challenging the state High Court order.

Telangana HC, too, observed that the state cannot restrict any citizen from exercising their fundamental rights, according to Gummala Bhasker Reddy, counsel for the petitioner.

Granting permission for the rally, the HC said it must not cause any inconvenience, should not disturb peace, must maintain a distance of 300 metres from religious structures, limit its strength to 500 people and have only those with no history of being involved in any communal clash or those with no criminal record as participants.

According to Reddy, the court has also asked the police to specify if any of the RSS members in Nirmal district have a criminal history.

Also read: Prasar Bharati defends move to replace PTI with RSS-backed agency — ‘needed linguistic diversity’

RSS sought permission as added precaution

The state government told the HC Tuesday that the information coming from their intelligence department suggested certain miscreants were planning to join the rally and create disturbances, but the counsel argued that the police is in a better position to handle such situations and that they couldn’t deny permission, a source from the petitioner’s side told ThePrint.

“This route march is an annual or biennial thing. It was last held in Bhainsa in 2018 but then postponed during the pandemic. This time, the police kept the application pending and the petitioner first went to court on 16 February,” the source said.

Earlier, no permission was sought by the local RSS unit for any programme organised in Bhainsa since there is no legal requirement to obtain one. However, this time, as an added precaution, RSS applied for permission. The authorities, though, refused to receive and acknowledge the same.

Bhainsa in north Telangana is known to be communally-sensitive. In 2008, violent communal clashes between Hindus and Muslims in the area and the subsequent police firing had resulted in the death of three people and left several injured. Since January 2020, the town has reported three communal clashes and seen 10-day internet shutdowns at least twice in the same period.

Of Bhainsa’s population of 49,764 — as according to the 2011 Census — Hindus make up 49 per cent and Muslims 47 per cent. The Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) controls a majority of the municipal wards in the town.

This latest RSS rally was initially planned for 19 February but was postponed after the government pointed out that Shab-e-Barat was on the same day. The court at the time had also noted this and asked the petitioner to consider an alternate date, the petition copy said.

The police later rejected the permission application altogether and the petitioner reached out to the court again and obtained relief on the rejection.

“The 19th was also Shivratri. So, to maintain peace it was agreed that the march will be held on a later date,” the source said.

(Edited by Zinnia Ray Chaudhuri)

Also read: DMK vs RSS in Tamil Nadu: Denial of permission for march gives Sangh ‘huge mileage’, says Annamalai


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