Art as a form of dissent: A community come forward in Bengaluru against arbitrary rule that restricts public protest

Citizens for Sankey, a group consisting of civic activists and residents of Sadashivanagar, Vyalikaval and Malleswaram, which was formed initially to protest against the Sankey Road flyover project has now turned into a robust forum of dissent and liberal thoughts
Protests at Bengaluru restricted
Protests at Bengaluru restricted(Source: EdexLive Desk)

A panel discussion on Art as Activism: Creative Avenues for voicing dissent was organised by Citizens for Sankey following a recent Karnataka High Court ruling that restricts public protests in Bengaluru to a designated area within a single park.

The panel highlighted the avenues of how art can be used to relay dissent effectively.

Citizens for Sankey is a group consisting of civic activists and residents of Sadashivanagar, Vyalikaval and Malleswaram, formed initially to protest against the Sankey Road flyover project.

A member of the Citizens for Sankey, Kimsuka Iyer, told PTI that even though there were several protest restrictions, their fight against the Sankey flyover last year forced them to come up with creative ways of expressing dissent, and even later, several First Information Reports (FIRs) were filed against them.

"A year on, citizens continue to receive FIRs for exercising their constitutional right to peacefully protest. This is hugely problematic and prevents us citizens from participating in democracy, which is our right," said Kimsuka.

Protests can only be held after the police's permit
As per the recent court ruling, protests can only be held after procuring permission from the police, which is also problematic, informed advocate Vinay Sreenivasa, one of the panellists.

He further alleged, "For over two years, police have restricted protests, and public gatherings in any place other than Freedom Park, and have refused permission for processions. This has caused enormous hardship to all those seeking to exercise their constitutional rights and is against the very spirit of plural and diverse Karnataka where all citizens can make their concerns heard and felt."

What is the Licensing and Regulation of Protests Order?
The Licensing and Regulation of Protests, Demonstrations and Protest Marches (Bengaluru City) Order, 2021 designats Freedom Park as the only place for protests in the city.

On delimiting spaces for protest, Sreenivasa told PTI that the rule makes it incredibly difficult for marginalised communities to protest. "What sense does it make for farmers from Devanahalli to travel to an isolated part of Freedom Park to voice their dissent?" said Sreenivasa.

Other panellists present at the meeting expressed that the organisation would extend support to people as they reclaim and occupy public spaces with images and other affirmations they may choose.

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