Ahead of TDP, Jana Sena Yatras, Andhra bans public meetings on roads, highways

The decision follows two back-to-back stampedes during Telugu Desam Party programmes that left 11 people dead in Kandukuri and Guntur.

By Newsmeter Network  Published on  4 Jan 2023 5:41 AM GMT
Ahead of TDP, Jana Sena Yatras, Andhra bans public meetings on roads, highways

Amaravati: Ahead of TDP General Secretary Nara Lokesh's 400-day Padayatra, and Jana Sena Party chief Pawan Kalyan's bus yatra, the Andhra Pradesh government has prohibited public meetings and gatherings on roads and highways. However, only in rare and exceptional circumstances, permission for public meetings may be considered.

The decision follows two back-to-back stampedes during Telugu Desam Party programmes that left 11 people dead in Kandukuri and Guntur.

A government Order issued by the Principal Secretary (Home) Harish Kumar Gupta said the right to conduct a public meeting on public roads and streets is a subject matter of regulation as Section 30 of the Police Act, 1861 itself mandates. The government said that public meetings on public roads and streets cause huge inconvenience to the general public and the conduct of such public meetings also has proven to lead to injuries and deaths.

The immediate context is the incident at Kandukuru, wherein 8 persons were found dead in a stampede, where a magisterial inquiry has been ordered.

"It is noted that in such roadside meetings, in which people congregate on road margins also, crowd control is not effectively undertaken because of the narrow roads, absence of multiple exit points and sudden surge of the crowd towards the Speaker, unregulated number of the participants in the crowd by the organizers, last-minute changes to the locations on the road", the order read.

"Narrow roads, absence of multiple exit points, and sudden surge of crowds by organizers lead to difficulties in controlling crowds. No permission will be granted for meetings on National Highways and state highways, and nor could such events be held on municipal and panchayat roads", the order added.

Principal Secretary (Home) Harish Kumar Gupta directed the police to identify 'designated places' away from public roads for the conduct of public meetings, which do not hamper the flow of traffic, public movement, emergency services, and movement of essential commodities.

Opposition slams government

Lashing out at the government, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLA Gorantla Butchaiah Chowdary termed it a New Year gift that deprives people of their democratic rights. He said that GO has been issued under the provisions of the 1861 Police Act which was enacted by Britishers. "This amounts to maligning the democracy and it reflects the factionist mentality of the Chief Minster YS Jagan Mohan Reddy", he said.

BJP state president Somu Veerraju said an investigation should be conducted into two stampedes that claimed the lives of many people in four days and the government must take steps to prevent such incidents.

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